Review: 'The Inheritance Part Two' Brings Epic to Satisfying Conclusion

by Will Demers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday October 5, 2022

The cast of Trinity Repertory Company's "The Inheritance"
The cast of Trinity Repertory Company's "The Inheritance"  

Matthew Lopez's "The Inheritance Part Two" concludes the story of four men (two couples) and their friends as they navigate relationships, adversity, disease, and tragedy in 21st century New York.

The younger couple Toby (Taavon Gamble) and Eric (Jack Dwyer) are finished. After finding out that Eric is marrying wealthy Republican businessman Henry Wilcox (Mauro Hantman), he flees to Leo (Chingwe Padraig Sullivan), the doppelgänger for the actor Adam, whom Toby had hopelessly fallen for in Part One (Adam and Leo are played by the same actor).

When Jack and Henry get married, their ceremony is interrupted by an angry guest who wants to argue politics with Henry. Complicating matters, Toby and Leo crash the wedding party where Toby makes a scene and Henry recognizes Leo as a sex worker he's previously employed. This sets the dynamic for the play's conclusion, in which Toby disappears and Leo, sick with HIV, turns to Eric, while Henry is humbled.

At three hours and 10 minutes, "The Inheritance Part Two" throws the audience into the car crash of these people's lives, but not for one minute does it feel long and indulgent, in part due to director Joe Wilson, Jr.'s deft and delicate direction. This is because Lopez's play brims with many themes and meanings, specifically its relationship to its source material: E.M. Forster's 1910 novel "Howards End." Lopez cleverly transposes the novel's plot, which examines the social divisions of Edwardian London, onto his sprawling narrative about the inter-generational lives of gay men living in 21st century America.

His work also recalls two classic gay plays: Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart" as well as Tony Kushner's "Angels in America," the latter because of its length and its social commentary on the impact of AIDS on gay lives. But this isn't a drama just about a disease that took the lives of many young men, as the play movingly reminds us. It also points out that the socio economic ways it continues to affect our lives daily.

Henry finally confessed to Eric that his late partner Walter's dying wish was that he take possession of the upstate house that acted as a refuge for dying men at the height of the epidemic. Eric leaves Henry and takes the seriously ailing Leo with him to the country house (which represents Forster's retreat "Howards End"). At the house they meet an older lady (Jackie Davis, an absolute delight) who regales them with a vivid story of those times back in the '80s and '90s when men were coming to the house to pass. One of them was her very own son, who she abandoned after he confessed his inclination to be gay. Trinity Repertory Company actor Stephen Thorne is no less spectacular when he returns briefly as "Morgan," a character Lopez invented to represent Forster.

"The Inheritance, Part Two" is a truly satisfying conclusion to the story laid out in Part One. It reminds us that things are incredibly complicated and there are no absolutes, only gray areas. If you're so inclined, there are a few opportunities to see both parts in one shot. Check out the link below for dates and times. You will be taken on a funny, fresh, and deeply emotional journey you will be talking about for years to come.

"The Inheritance, Part Two" is running through November 6 at the Trinity Repertory Company 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02909. For information or tickets call 401-351-4242 or visit www.trinityrep.com.