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The Voysey Inheritance

With Bernie Madoff's scam still fresh in the public mind, it's easy to see why the Denver Center Theatre Company would chose to produce David Mamet's adaptation of Harley Granville-Barker's The Voysey Inheritance, a compelling story about a son who discovers that his family's fortune and privileges have been pilfered from clients in an elaborate Ponzi scheme.

Sam Gregory as Edward Voysey
Sam Gregory as Edward Voysey
Photo by Terry Shapiro
What's less obvious and unexpected is the depth of Granville-Barker's analysis of the system that engenders such behavior with increasing regularity. Mamet deftly separates the wheat from the chaff, taking a sprawling 4-hour, 5-act, 1905 British epic and honing it for contemporary sensibilities into a taught, 2-hour and 10-minute drama.

Edward Voysey (Sam Gregory) hardly speaks a word at dinner. Alice Maitland (Dana Acheson), a distant cousin, expresses her concern. She and Edward have had an attachment for some time and his proposal of marriage is overdue.

Dana Acheson as Alice Maitland
Dana Acheson as Alice Maitland
Photo by Terry Shapiro
But Edward's mind is somewhere else, having learned from a thorough examination of the books and records of the family-owned trust and estate law firm run by his father that the portfolios of their clients, some of whom are close friends, have been savaged.

Edward's first confidant in this matter is Alice. Gregory is stellar as the reticent and deeply conflicted Edward, deep on principles, but compromised by loyalty to his parents and three brothers and two sisters. Acheson is luminescent as his devoted and clever soulmate.

Philip Pleasants as Mr. Voysey
Philip Pleasants as Mr. Voysey
Photo by Terry Shapiro
The character work is thrilling throughout the rest of the ensemble as well, beginning with Philip Pleasant's patriarch, Mr. Voysey, and Kathleen Brady's matriarch, Mrs. Voysey, whose mutual and familial largesse belies a closet of secrets.

Scribe Granville-Barker fills the stage with a full spectrum of moral and social misfits, including: the bombastic son, Major Booth Voysey (a gloriously self-righteous and self-deceptive John Hutton); the outcast son, Trenchard Voysey (a witty and cynical Robert Sicular); the artistic son, Hugh Vosey (a sensitive and anti-materialistic Shawn Fagan); the spoiled daughter, Ethel Voysey (a breezy and entitled Rebecca Martin); and the soulful sister, Honor Voysey (a steady and translucent Jeanne Paulson).

(Left to right) Sam Gregory as Edward Voysey and John Hutton as Major Booth Voysey
Dana Acheson as Alice Maitland
Photo by Terry Shapiro
Randy Moore, as the slippery company secretary and Michael Winters, as the affronted family friend, launch additional fireworks.

Granville-Barker's razor wit mitigates the pain of blind greed: Mr. Voysey -- "Why is it so hard for a man to see beyond the letter of the law?" Or, "I tell no unnecessary lies," reminding us of our favorite Wall Street and D.C. Beltway criminals.

Director Bruce K. Sevy's every detail, from the sublime casting to Lisa M. Orzolek's refined post-Victorian furnishings, Bill Black's well-chosen threads, and Jason Ducat's edgy musical segues make for a delicious feast for the eyes and ears.

The Denver Center Theatre Company's production of The Voysey Inheritance runs through October 24th. 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org.

Bob Bows

 

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