The Inheritance: A Marathon Event

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Ineritance: A Marathon Event
Cast of The Inheritance. Photo: Matthew Murphy

I responded to the press invitation to see The Inheritance, the two-part Broadway play that in total clocks in at nearly seven hours, with great trepidation.

Clearing the time for a matinee and an evening performance in one day seemed like an impossible task, given the full plate of responsibilities that summon every day, and the specter of Thanksgiving lurking around the corner.

It was on my calendar this past week, and I kept looking at the two times repeatedly. 1 PM and 7 PM. Could I really commit to this? I decided to jump in and see where the marathon viewing would take me.

The Inheritance, by Matthew Lopez,  is a most interesting piece. It’s inspired by the novel, Howards End, by E.M. Forster and weaves in the complexities of relationships, in this case, male relationships and what one will do for the depths of love, set against the backdrop of gay life, post-AIDS crisis. And yet, the swath of devastation caused by AIDS is still very much front and center in this piece.

The Inheritance starts with the conundrum of story-telling. How do we begin to tell our story?

A reincarnated E.M. Forster cajoles the young man asking the question and nudges the start of the tale. And that is the convention The Inheritance, Part One and Part Two employs.

The journey centers around a young male couple who have agreed to marry each other. It  unfolds along with the interaction of their friends, and a new, even younger man who finds his way into their life and home.

That is just one story. Then there is the older male couple who have been together for decades, brilliantly wealthy, with a house upstate that is much, much more than a house. It provides a sanctuary. All of this is revealed throughout the play, which, happily, grabbed me and kept my interest (mostly.) I must admit, there were a few times where I had difficulty staying engaged, but I have to attribute that to my incredibly full plate and late nights, and not to the story. However, in truth, one scene in Part One, full of exposition, seemed more like a history lesson than dialogue, and I would have liked to have seen that crafted in a different way.

Nonetheless, The Inheritance is quite a marvelous undertaking for audience and performers alike, as we must agree to be in community together for the entire day and night.

The acting is superb, the direction by Stephen Daldry, sublime. It is an emotional roller coaster for the audience, and clearly for the actors, who, at the conclusion of Part Two seemed spent and worn. I marvel at their stamina.

Clear the time, and make your way to this special Broadway experience.

To hear about The Inheritance and other Broadway news and conversation, tune into “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” radio show and podcast on WNYM-AM, Saturday morning from 9-10.

Ineritance: A Marathon Event

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