You have to wonder why there isn’t a word in the English language for the fireworks that go off in your brain when you finally kiss someone you’ve wanted for years. Or for the intimacy and tenderness you feel as you hold the hand of a suffering friend.
A generation after the height of the AIDS crisis, what is it like to be a young gay man in New York? How many words are there now for the different kinds of pain, the different kinds of love?
Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance premiered in two parts at the Young Vic Theatre, London, in March 2018. The play transferred to the Noel Coward Theatre, London, in September 2018.
This is a book that no way in a million years would I have found on my own, so I’m very lucky to have a friend who saw this on stage, bought the book and brought it across the country to my door to say ‘READ THIS’.
It’s the story of three generations of gay men in New York, the narrative helped along by the voice of the now deceased author EM Forster. (his book Maurice was actually recommended to me by another friend several years ago and I’ve read it multiple times since).
The essence of this play is an exploration of what it means to be gay and how much it defines a person – having a community, how it affects politics, what is most important to you. For such a small cast, a huge array of outlooks and opinions are presented, none of them made to seem more/less valid than another. The characters are all very distinctive and each one brings something special to the story.
It also considers what responsibilities each generation has for the next – what they should sacrifice to make sure that the next generation faces less discrimination.
It’s incredibly thought provoking and I think everyone will experience it a little differently – I already know that my friend and I have different views on one of the main characters. I know that she’d recommend seeing it on stage if you possibly can (and I reckon she’s probably right!), but as someone who has only read the book, there’s still a huge amount to be gained from getting the story this way.