THE INHERITANCE | London, Noël Coward Theatre

In writer Matthew Lopez’s gay masterpiece, the present resonates loudly with the past; a ferociously brilliant, seven-hour exploration of gay identity, recently transferred from a wildly acclaimed, sell-out run at the Young Vic earlier this year. It follows the whirlwind lives of two young gay men, Toby Darling (Andrew Burnap) and Eric Glass (Kyle Soller), in contemporary Manhattan.

Lopez’s writing is consistently sleek, smart and self-aware, capturing the urbane wit of queer Manhattan. The story is replete with drama, sass and gut-wrenching reversals, but it also consists of a playful concatenation of literary levels. A potent example of this is the spectral presence of E. M. Forster (Paul Hilton), whose novels in fact drive the plot. Forster is the play’s jester and moral compass… that is, until he ceases to be.

In the world of the play’s young gay men, life is an entanglement that affords no easy answers, not even from literary giants. Things are messy and spill over. Actors play multiple roles. Jump between worlds. Break the fourth wall. Climb over the audience. Wink at us.

That the production never descends into gimmickry or melodrama is largely thanks to its award-winning, veteran director Stephen Daldry, and the incredibly dedicated and talented cast. Blending realism and caricature, they create an elegantly controlled chaos pungent with life. One of those rare pieces of theatre that is extraordinarily ambitious, but gets it absolutely pitch-perfect.

£20 day seats are available at the box office. Playing until January 19, 2019.

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