THEATRE REVIEW: The Inheritance ★★★★★
Noël Coward Theatre
21 September 2018 - 19th January 2019
Transferring to The Noël Coward Theatre after a sellout run at The young vic, The Inheritance, which is inspired by E.M Forster's 'Howard's End' Novel, tells the story of a young, ambitious gay group of New York men, especifically delving into the lives of Toby, Eric, Walter, Henry, Adam and Leo. Hailed by the critics as 'The play of the century', I was incredibly intrigued by this production, directed by Stephen Daldry, and in most areas I was highly impressed.
I think it's in no bad statement to point out that this adaption draws similarity to the other 8 hour epic that was produced by The National Theatre last year, Angels in America, as here with have a similar formula that includes a stellar cast with pure emotion and resistance to each of their roles, almost like their whole training had be lead up to fully fleshing out the characters portrayed on stage, really living these characters lives every day. The art of storytelling in both productions is also one to be applauded, especially as The Inheritance keeps you on the edge of your seat, so much that even though we know through marketing that Vanessa Redgrave is to appear in the closing act of this production, we as the audience are so engrossed with the action on stage that it actually came as a shock when Redgrave appeared on stage.
There is a simplicity running through both parts of this production, each running at just over 3 hours each, in the fact that every miniscule detail has been taken into account, notably from the lighting and set, which is so stripped back that it allows the audience to really imagine their own settings within the story without it being thrown at us in old black and white fashion, and that's incredibly fresh to see, especially when the action bounces back and forth constantly during the performance; it is though the cherry tree that is the staple set piece that is unveiled in Part Two which really takes your breath away, even more so as we watch it thrive through the seasons that the story touches upon.
This though is where I have a little nag, as though the delight of seeing Vanessa Redgrave on stage is truly like watching a masterclass in acting, I feel like the character she portrays, without giving too much away, doesn't really get to flesh out as much as I had hoped, with a little bit more stage time being the only adjustment I would make to her presence, though I understand the characters can only be pushed so far. It must be said further though that you could almost hear a pin drop as Redgrave breaks your heart with a wrenching monologue that only those with a heart of stone would not tear up for!
Overall, believe the hype for this astounding piece of theatre, and if you can, watch both parts chronologically all in one day, just as I did, because I would've gone mad if I had to wait too long after the climax of the first installment - beg, borrow and steal what ever you can to see this production, because it's exactly what theatre should be like; fresh, innovative, and bringing every generation and sexuality together to witness a truly historical masterpiece, I for one feeling truly honoured to have gone through the journey with these characters from their beginnings right through to their final goodbyes.