The six hour play “The Inheritance” opened last night on Broadway, with eyes on the 2020 Tony Award for Best Play next June.
Matthew Lopez’s play already has strong competition from Adam Rapp’s “The Sound Inside,” now playing at Studio 54 to rave reviews with Mary Louise Parker.
But now comes news that Martin McDonagh’s great play “Hangmen,” which had an off Broadway run last season at the Atlantic Theater Company, is coming in February 2020. Look out. This one will be tough to beat. For one thing, it has three powerhouse producers: Robert Fox, Jean Doumanian and Elizabeth I. McCann.
But wait, stop: three great original plays! Who’d-a thunk it? Broadway really is cyclical.
“Hangmen” hasn’t announced cast yet, but I can only hope most of the original cast from the Atlantic will return. Last year the story was that star Johnny Flynn couldn’t transfer to Broadway because his wife was expecting a child. That little girl, Ida, is now two years old. I’m sure she can take care of herself by now!
Meantime, “The Inheritance” opened to a lot of praise and respectful reviews. Lopez sort of mixes “Angels in America” with E.M. Forster’s “Howard’s End.” Sort of. A very talented newish playwright, Lopez could use an editor. There’s no reason this should be split over two nights. I saw part 1 on Saturday. It rises to brilliance in some plays, but becomes pedantic and preachy in a long stretch that could easily have been cut.
The overall production rises above the minutiae however. There are usually 10 men on stage at one time. Stephen Daldry’s direction is so facile that you don’t see it unless you’re looking for it. In another director’s hands I don’t know how this would have worked. But he keeps everyone moving in subtle ways.
The actors are all top notch, but three of them stand out: Kyle Soller, the lead character named Eric Glass, is our eyes and ears through this journey to explore gay life in New York post-AIDS crisis. He’s a little like Snoopy as he pads through the many plots and twists. Eric is the solid citizen, the tentpole, so it’s not a showy role. But Soller is an extremely likable guide.
Two more outstanding performances come from the “older” men (haha– my age). John Benjamin Hickey and Paul Hilton are a couple. Hickey is a real estate billionaire. They’ve been together for 36 years but the relationship is dormant, they’re rarely in the same place. I’m not even sure if they’re in the same scene together. But their dynamic, and these actors’ talents, make “The Inheritance” eminently watchable.
Will I return for Part 2? Yes, on a separate day. Lopez is smart. He’s got the legendary Lois Smith in Part 2, at the end, and she can’t be missed. Plus, the whole point of this thing turns out not to be AIDS or the gay journey but real estate. Howard’s End was a house in Forster’s book. In “The Inheritance,” there’s a country house up for grabs, and we want to see who gets it.
Warning: the end of Part 1 is quite moving, as said house becomes something quite transcendent. What a way to place a cliffhanger!