KCL Radio Reviews ‘The Inheritance’
Having moved to Bush House, we’re all that little bit closer (around 100 metres, to be exact) to the world-famous wonder of the West End. So, we have to take advantage, right? Well over the past few days two of our presenters did exactly that; visiting the Noel Coward theatre to see the brand new West End production of The Inheritance. And they’re going to tell you why you should do the exact same…
The Inheritance. A story of love, loss and life’s cyclical peaks and troughs. Sounds generic, right? Well, you would be forgiven for mistaking things as such. Whilst on the surface, the themes of the play seem all too regularly occurring, the plot and quality of acting transformed the production into something unlike what I’ve ever seen before.
First of all, it is important to note the play is split into two parts – Part 1 and Part 2. Both are stand-alone plays, so you can see one without the other, though they are intended to be viewed chronologically. Our Head of Entertainment, Alexa Dewar went to see Part 1, whilst Kato Van der Speeten, presenter of Sound Of was at Part 2. So here’s their collaborative explanation of each piece and the production as a whole.
We’ll start off with Part 1. Set in modern New York, the story follows a couple, Eric and Toby, living a seemingly perfect life; they are angelicin their adoration for one another. But through a series of changing circumstances (Toby’s newfound work, the Trump election) this apparent stability all but crumbles away, and the couple break up. The dynamics of all the relationships in the play – particularly those that Eric and Toby form – is one of the most important aspects of the play, as it encapsulates the central themes of personal tragedy, love and loss. Despite the three-and-a-half hour production (with two intervals, I may add!) it is because of these dynamics and the incredible craft of all actors involved that we are kept captivated by the whole thing. One of The Inhertances most admirable qualities is the perfect use of comedy and emotion; the witty script and stunning execution effortlessly eliciting the audience’s laughter one second to their tears the next. This builds up throughout Part 1 to reach a head at the end; and everyone is struck by the poignant words of Eric as he presents a monologue of why we should not forget those that struggled during the Aids epidemic. They live through us and we should live through them. Needless to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the auditorium. And the standing ovation at the end affirmed the quality of how they carried this message through.
The second part of the Inheritance dives right back into the story and gets you focused really quickly. We see how Eric moves on with his life after his break with Toby, and the story splits up perfectly as we follow Toby as well, who is living an exuberant life with extreme ups and downs. This rollercoaster of emotions keeps on going until the end of the play, which made the audience cry and smile at the same time. What is really remarkable about the Inheritance is that it connects the history and present so effortless, because every reference made to the past fits perfectly natural into the story. In a zoomed-out perspective, you get a good image of how the AIDS plague destroyed thousands of people’s lives in the eighties and later on, but also relevant political subjects are being brought up (think Trump!). On the other hand, there is this intimate, close band between the characters and the audience; you really have the feeling you already know them for ages! This delicate balance between history and present, between panorama shots and close-ups is a golden one.
On a final note, we would like to highlight an interesting remark that follows on from the success of The Inheritance: a while ago, it was announced that British comedian Jack Whitehall, who is straight, would play a gay character in Jungle Cruise(the new Disney film). This got some serious debate going on whether straight actors are the right choice to play the role of a gay man. There are doubtlessly going to be a million arguments for and against this idea, but The Inheritancehighlights the case for the former. One of the lead characters, Toby, is played by Andrew Burnap, and he is a non-LGBTQ actor. But his powerful and stunning interpretation of this colourful, yet tormented, young gay man, blew the audience away. He completely proves that being a good actor is all that it takes to give a stunning performance.
On that note, for theatre that continues to break boundaries, we urge you to go and see The Inheritance. And you too can be part of the discussion.
‘The Inheritance’ runs at The Noel Coward Theatre, from now until 19thJanuary 2019. Performances run Mon-Fri evenings (7.15 start) and Saturday includes a matinee performance at 1.15pm. Both Parts are approximately 3 hours 20 minutes. Tickets start from £20 for midweek performances.
This review was written by Alexa Dewar (London: Underground, Monday’s 5-6pm) and Kato Van der Speeten (Sound Of, Wednesday’s 8-9pm).