We assemble a multigenerational roundtable of gay men to discuss Matthew Lopez’s epic play, currently running on Broadway, which has been hailed as a spiritual successor to Angels in America. Is it really the great gay play of the century?
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In this special bonus episode of Outward, Bryan and a guest panel of multigenerational gay men devote a whole hour to The Inheritance, a seven-hour, two-part play by Matthew Lopez that garnered critical acclaim for its recent run in London and is currently dominating discussions on Broadway. There will be spoilers!
While it’s length, ambition, and engagement with the AIDS crisis have invited comparisons to Tony Kushner’s “gay fantasia on national themes” Angels in America, The Inheritance’s driving concern is a bit more personal: If gay men think of ourselves as a community spanning generations, what happens when a huge swath of that community is lost to plague, the survivors deeply traumatized, and younger cohorts must therefore come of age and figure out what it means to be gay in the wake of a tragedy that shapes everything around us? Borrowing a line from E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End, on which the play is based, The Inheritance desperately wants gay men to “connect” across age and loss—but is that kind of connection really possible?
Outward, Slate’s queer podcast, is a whip-smart monthly salon in which hosts and guests deepen the audience’s understanding of queer culture and politics, delight them with unexpected perspectives, and invite listeners into a colorful conversation about the issues animating LGBTQ communities.
J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate associate editor and the editor of Outward. He covers life, culture, and LGBTQ issues.
Carlos Maza is a media critic and creator of Vox's Strikethrough series. In 2019, he was named one of Time's Most Influential People on the Internet for his work documenting YouTube's failed anti-harassment policies.
David Groff is independent book editor who teaches poetry, nonfiction, and publishing in the MFA program at the City College of New York. He is the author of Clay, and Theory of Devolution, and the co-editor of two anthologies, Who's Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners and Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS.
Alex Barasch is an editorial assistant at the New Yorker. He writes about science, culture, LGBTQ issues, and where they intersect.