The Inheritance star Kyle Soller has said society should unite and “move forward together” after the play charting gay struggles was feted at the Olivier Awards.
Soller was named best actor at the awards in London, beating competition from heavyweight British talents Sir Ian McKellen and David Suchet.
The Inheritance won four awards, and Soller said the ambitious two-part epic dealing with the impact of the Aids epidemic has united generations of the gay community.
Moved by the play, the US actor has said the message of unity and healing could provide a model for society.
Speaking at the Royal Albert Hall following his win, he told the Press Association: “It feels like it’s doing so much more than theatre, to those men that need that healing, women, people, friends, the people that were lost, family members.
“Joining those two generations, the people that were lost to those who survived, that came after.
“That’s what the play is about.
“That’s what our society should be about, joining those generations so we can move forward together.”
Told across six hours dealing with the struggles of the gay community in New York, The Inheritance has swept the Olivier Awards with four prizes in the annual celebration of London theatre.
It claimed the gong for best actor, best new play, best lighting and best director.
Soller has said it was an honour and “humbling” to meet the community affected by the Aids tragedy he explored on stage.
He said: “I’ve spoken to people who have lost 80% of their friends.
“I’ve talked to people who have been diagnosed with Aids…. and survived.
“I’ve talked to young men who have been kicked out of their homes.
“I’ve never worked on a job where I felt like I was working on something so much grander than myself.
“It’s like I’m doing a service, to be representing a community with so much hurt, and so much pain, where so much healing has to be done.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience. An unbelievable responsibility, and so humbling.”
The play’s writer Matthew Lopez has said the play’s reception and awards was the “culmination of a journey” that began with him “equating being gay with dying” when he was younger.
He added: “It took years to accept who I was and claim my place in the world.”
Company also claimed four awards at the Royal Albert Hall ceremony, as did the musical Come From Away.
Summer And Smoke picked up two awards, with the play’s star Patsy Ferran beating competition from the likes of Gillian Anderson to be named best actress.
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith was named best actor in a musical for his work as Ike Turner in Tina.
Sharon D. Clarke won the award for best actress in a musical for her work Caroline, Or Change.
The Laurence Olivier Awards celebrate the best of London theatre and West End shows.