Saturday, November 14, 2009

100-year-old Voysey Inheritance Surprisingly Modern

Greed, Hypocrisy Never Go Out Out of Style

Rarely has a play selection been as timely as "The Voysey Inheritance," the season opener at Caldwell Theatre Company through Dec. 13.
With the double whammy of the Bernie Madoff scandal and now Scott Rothstein, financial scams are on the minds of everyone.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul is nothing new. "Voysey Inheritance" was written 100 years ago by British playwright Harley Granville-Barker. The script performed at Caldwell is a new version written by David Mamet.
Mamet is notorious for his aggressive, profane plays that castigate America's business and social mores.
"Voyey Inheritance" does the same thing to Edwardian England, but the criticisms are as pertinent today as they were a century ago.
The inheritance of the title refers both to a family fortune and character traits passed from one generation to the next.
The play begins with Edward Voysey in a disconsolate state over something that is as yet unclear.
He is short with his fiancee Alice (Marta), who complains he has lost interest in her.
Edward pours himself a stiff one and confronts his father (Peter Haig)with the fact that vast sums of money are missing from the funds they are supposed to be protecting, managing and reinvesting.
"We are bankrupted," Edward wails.
Dad acts like it's no big deal. He insists everyone will be paid back in the end. There's just a little shortfall right now.
Does this sound familiar at all, investors?
"Voysey Inheritance" is not big on action. For Mamet it is positively genteel. It is all about the torment of the main character and the greed and dishonesty of his family and friends.
Terry Hardcastle does good torment and Marta Reiman is excellent as his anguished, baffled, ultimately supportive fiancee.
The next character in importance is George Booth (Dennis Creaghan), a crony of Edward's dad and heavy investor in the company. In his role of potential whistle-blower Booth reveals his own greed, selfishness and hypocrisy.
It seems like everyone associated with the Voysey clan is in it for him or herself, even the mild-mannered vicar (John Felix).
This is how Ponzi schemes work: greed enabled by dishonestly. If a scheme sounds too good to be true it probably is not. This play is an excellent reminder that human nature has not changed in 100 or 1,000 years, and sometimes the good guy- not the bad- pays the price.
Tickets are $34-$55 ($10 students).
Caldwell Theatre presents a benefit with the excellent jazz paint Copeland Davis at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Dec. 7 at 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Tickets are $50 and $100.
Call 561-241-7432 or go to

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