How I wish I'd had the chance to see this on the West End or on Broadway, or better still, at the Young Vic where it was first staged. Reading the play is the next best thing, though my imagination is a poor substitute for a director's vision (Stephen Daldry's!) and all of the craft that brings words to life.
Inspired by E.M. Forsters Howard's End, The Inheritance is set in New York's gay community, long after the worst ravages of AIDS, like a spiritual successor to Tony Kushner's Angels in America. It talks to the responsibility we take for ourselves, for our friends and for the world around us. It's about how we might let the choices we make be informed by the battles fought by the generations that came before, and how across time, our own choices might reverberate for generations to come.
It's also an expansive, sometimes soap operatic drama about sex and drugs and friendship and art and money and love, and all of the other stuff that make up our everyday. It's witty but has moments of suprising depth. It's earnest but clear-eyed and vital. It's emotional but mostly earns its sentimentality (and when it doesn't, nods to Sirkian melodrama acknowledge its own artifice). It builds and builds until it wrecks you with its cumulative power. Or at least it did me.
Maybe it's good I was never in the audience for a performance of The Inheritance. I was enough of a weeping mess by the last page as it is.
Or maybe it's actually better read than seen performed - the unimpressed American critics, when it crossed from London onto the Broadway stage, alluded to its irrtating tendency to ""tell, not show".
If you've ever wondered what it means to be gay today (and how to be better at it), what we owe and to whom, what we do with the freedoms and the opportunities that were won for us, what we can still do for one another... then you might enjoy this play, even (especially?) in book form. Or if you're so equipped, stage it (and send me an invite)!