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entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"The Voysey Inheritance"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The fourth show of 2nd Story Theatre's season is "The Voysey Inheritance". The show was written in 1905 by Harley Granville-Barker and David Mamet has adapted the show into 2 acts from the original 5 act show reducing it from four hours to two."The Voysey Inheritance" is an impeccably crafted yarn chronicling a family in the midst of a moral dilemma. For generations, the Voysey family business has been cheating its clients, they spend all the investors' capital to support a lavish lifestyle. And when an honorable son inherits the company, he's horrified to discover the secret of his family's wealth. Edward Voysey who has just inherited the reins of the firm and breaks the bad news, is the only member of the family moved to shame at the discovery that the just-deceased paterfamilias had been bilking clients to support his family in style. Edward is determined to call in the law, come clean and face the consequences. His discovery that this path may not be as easy to pursue as it seems forms the substance of this play. The only problem is he will have to continue to carry on the practices of his father while he does so. All would have worked out had it not been for an old friend of his father that doesn't trust Edward and demands all of his money. An Edwardian-era Ponzi scheme, the show is part drawing room comedy, part love story, part business-and-finance drama. Granville-Barker's very prescient, very timely tale could have been ripped from today's headlines. Does the name Madoff ring a bell? Ed Shea leads his 12 member cast in an entertaining and energetic show of intrigue of a family in crises. This show reaches high levels of intensity that have the audience gasping at what they are witnessing. The performers in this show mesmerize the audience.

Ed casts these roles beautifully and obtains brilliant portrayals from his cast. There is only one entrance into the room where people come in for a discussion on what has happened.The topnotch lighting is by Ron Allen and the gorgeous early twentieth century costumes are by Ron Cesario. Production manager Max Ponticelli keeps things running smoothly. Bob Colonna charms the audience as the father who is a financial sociopath who doesn't care about who he has stolen the money from. He explains he borrowed it to use in stock market speculation. Bob does topnotch work in the confrontation scene with his son Edward. His line to Edward that he is his father's son tries to justify the older man's position Jeff Hodge is every bit his acting equal as the conscientious son who wants to repay the firms clients. He shows the dilemma and problems he faces now that he knows the truth. Jeff is onstage the entire show and delivers a wonderful portrayal as he explains precise entries in the ledger to his father as well as his interactions with his siblings, his mother and the other characters in the show.

Edward has 5 siblings, three brothers and two sisters.Ara Boghigian is Hugh who is an artist, doesn't give a hoot about the money gives a terrific performance in this role in the second act where he confides in Edward and later argues loudly with Booth. Nick Thibeault is Trenchard, a lawyer who is pompous and boorish, proclaiming he never got along with their father. Michael LoCicero plays Major Booth, wears mutton chop whiskers, commands the stage as the boisterous brother who runs roughshod over everyone. Booth is blustery and demanding, claims they must keep the honor of the family intact. Honor, the no-nonsense sister and Ethel, the naive younger sister are played by Erin Sheehan who helps save the day for Edward in the Christmas scene and Elise Arsenault who is a spitfire in this role. His mother is wonderfully played by Joan Batting who lends a deaf ear to his pleas to right the wrongs of the past and says her inheritance is separate from the tainted money.His one ally in the house is Alice Maitland, his childhood sweetheart played beautifully by Lara Maynard. She gives the character the warmth and understanding of Edward's plight beautifully and gives the show a surprise ending. Jonathan Jacob plays Peasy, the main clerk in the firm who demands hush money from Edward. He does a topnotch job in this scene as the smarmy clerk. Tom Oakes as George Booth, the firm's main client who trusts the father implicitly but not the son who is more honest and truthful. Tom and Jeff's scene in the second act crackle with sparks at Tom's emotion packed performance. Rounding out the cast is Burr Harrison as the money hungry minister. So for an interesting look back in this new adaptation by David Mamet, be sure to catch "The Voysey Inheritance". The more things change, the more they stay the same and the audience discovers what was reprehensible in 1905, is still so over a hundred years later.

"The Voysey Inheritance" (12 March - 11 April)
2ND STORY THEATRE
@ 28 Market Street, WARREN RI
1(401)247-4200

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