Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'A Seven-Hour Play about Love Is What We All Need' Kyle Soller Has Earned Rave Reviews for His Performance in 2018's Theatrical Hit, the Inheritance, Says Nick Curtis

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'A Seven-Hour Play about Love Is What We All Need' Kyle Soller Has Earned Rave Reviews for His Performance in 2018's Theatrical Hit, the Inheritance, Says Nick Curtis

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Curtis

MATTHEW Lopez's The Inheritance at the Young Vic is 2018's biggest, boldest theatrical hit so far -- a freewheeling, brilliant, seven-hour, twopart play about love and LGBTQ history inspired by Howards End and directed with exuberant panache by Stephen Daldry. It features an ensemble of bright, buff young men, and the only woman in the cast is Vanessa Redgrave, but its beating heart is Kyle Soller.

The 35-year-old Connecticut-born, London-based actor plays Eric, a gay Jewish political activist in Manhattan whose moral integrity endures despite a romantic life and an inheritance of a country house that are -- in echo of EM Forster's Helen Schlegel -- riven with difficulty. "Soller delicately charts the difficult, admirable progress of the man who melts into goodness," wrote The Guardian's Michael Billington. The actor's layered, heartfelt incarnation of Eric also proved the prescience of the Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer he won at the 2011 Evening Standard Theatre Awards for a brilliant trio of roles.

Soller, who is married to the actress Phoebe Fox, was sent Lopez's 400-page script as he was preparing to fly to New York for some meetings. His agent told him just to read a few scenes, "but once I started I just couldn't stop, because it was just compulsively brilliant, and I felt a responsibility towards what Matthew had written to read all of it in 24 hours. I had never laughed and cried so hard. What struck me most about the piece was its incredible heart.

"Matthew was trying to answer some universal questions about life -- how do I give and receive love, how do I live with integrity? -- but also about growing up in the gay community." One of the play's central theses is that "in the hetero world we take for granted that our history can be passed on quite openly and freely" whereas LGBTQ history has been stifled by prejudice, shame or by the loss of a generation to Aids. (As well as Forster, Lopez pays homage to Tony Kushner's two-part Reagan-era epic Angels in America.) Soller's Eric holds his own against the strongest characters on stage: his egotistical lover Toby; ingenue Adam, who becomes a manipulative star; and Henry, the Trump-supporting billionaire Eric marries.

Having won the part, Soller took his delayed trip to New York "and spent a beautiful month of exploring the city and trying to identify and explore what it would mean growing up there Jewish and gay". Then came the rehearsal period, an intense process of "constant refinement, constant paring back to get to the heart of the story and tell it in the truest way. There is a whole, other play we could have performed from the cuts that have been made." What, you mean there could be a director's cut lasting 10 hours, I boggle? …

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