The Inheritance - Part 1 Reviews
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Fascinating Tragic History
The Inheritance Part I (We have tickets for Part II next month.) is a tragic a play by Matthew Lopez that deals with New York’s gay men. It is a conglomeration of Boys in the Band, Angels in America and Howards End depicting the history of the AIDS crisis and the spiritually redeeming qualities of a house. Lopez’s debt to E.M. Forster and his humanistic philosophy stressing the pursuit of personal connections despite the restrictions of contemporary society is a major theme. A character called Morgan, Forster’s name, addresses a group of young men and urges them to write what is in their hearts. This advice results in the story of Eric Glass (Kyle Soller) and Toby Darling (Andrew Burnap). Eric is a kindly, humane lawyer who lives in a posh Upper West Side apartment and reveres his family’s history. Toby, his partner of seven years, is an egotistical, sharp-tongued writer whose success as a novelist and dramatist is based on the denial of his past. Their marriage is threatened both by Eric’s loss of the family apartment and by Toby’s fixation on Adam (Samuel Levine), the handsome star of his play. Dual or triple roles in the action underscore the splintered feelings of the members of the gay community who physically have a seat at the table in scenic designer Bob Crowley’s spare set. In fact, as the action evolves, one of the actors comments on the change from going to gay bars to seeking companionship via the internet. Promiscuity vs. faithfulness are sharply represented in the 36-year relationship between Morgan and Henry Wilcox (John Benjamin Hickey), an embodiment of the emotional isolation of the very rich. This leads to the same clash of values borrowed from Howards End. The graphic descriptions and modern dance routines of homosexual sex detract from the overarching themes of the play and are probably inserted for shock value. The performance that best exemplifies the play’s beliefs is that of brilliant actor Paul Hilton who, as Morgan and Walter Poole, exudes a quiet humanity combining respect for the dead balanced by a love of the living and an ability to connect with people from beyond their own circles as they become more liberal and tolerant. Bob Crowley’s costume design has only the elder couple, Morgan and Henry Wilcox, wearing shoes. They have made strides from the 1950’s attitude toward stereotypical gays to today’s acknowledgement of differences among the homosexual community and same sex marriage. The rest of the cast is all barefoot. This choice intimates the “barefoot and pregnant” female kept in traditional functions of wife, mother, and cook should apply to attitudes towards men’s customary roles. Although the play runs almost three hours, the time flies by as the audience is rapt with the characters and the action.
Written on October, 2nd 2019