I love predicting what’s going to happen in books and movies.
The same goes for Broadway shows—my most recent excursion being The Inheritance at the Barrymore Theatre. I didn’t know anything about it—truly only knew that it was a Broadway show—but my boyfriend wanted to see it, so I bought us Friday tickets to Part One (three hours, two intermissions) and Saturday tickets to Part Two (three hours, one intermission and a “brief pause”), going in blind.
Characters began to wander on stage as we were seated in the orchestra. I leaned over to my boyfriend and whispered, “Oh, he’s definitely gay.” My boyfriend nodded his head, mumbling “Uhm… yeah?” Turns out that (nearly) every single character is a gay man—something I’d have known with a simple Google of the premise to the show I bought tickets for.
Though most of the characters are considerably middle class, I was happy to see a diversity of characters within that class—black and Hispanic and white, masculine and feminine, strong-willed and mousy, promiscuous and married. (The married couple, Jason and Jason, were called “The Jasons,” which I love.)
The end of Act One ends with a speech from an older character about watching his friends die from AIDS—another thing I would have known from reading any synopsis of the play. “Oh… So this is like a super gay play,” I said during the first intermission.
“What did you think it was about?” my boyfriend asked.
“I don’t know! Money?!”
With the knowledge that we were already knee-deep in an emotional play about the modern-day gay man and the men that came before us (inspired by E. M. Forster’s novel, “Howards End”), I ordered a glass of wine and buckled up.
By the end of Part One, I was sobbing. To be fair, we all were: Tears sparkled down the faces of everyone around me. Part One ends with an audible breath from character Eric Glass, a devastating breath that sent chills down my spine and (more) tears down my face—then a cut to black.
Speaking of Eric Glass—when we first sat down for Part One, we noticed an insert in our Playbill announcing “THE ROLE OF ERIC GLASS WILL BE PLAYED BY SAM LILJA.” LIlja was a standout star, playing a character that could be interpreted as privileged and spoiled in a way that was endearing and, above all else, human. I was glad we returned for Part Two that Saturday, and glad to see Lilja both nights.
The Inheritance is a MUST SEE. I had the feeling I was watching an important part of gay theatre history, one to join the likes of Rent and Angels in America—not to mention, much as the modern day gay man is able to be who they are because of the generation before them, this play is able to be on Broadway because of the shows before it. If you need someone to go with for emotional support, I’ll see it again in a heartbeat.