AISLE SAY San Francisco


By Harley Granville-Barker
adapted by David Mamet
Directed by Carey Perloff
Presented by American Conservatory Theater
in association with Kansas City Repertory Theatre
Geary Theater
415 Geary St. at Mason, San Francisco / (415) 749-2228

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Even though Harley Granville-Barker wrote "The Voysey Inheritance" 100 years ago, the story could easily have been snatched from today's sagas of corporate shenanigans. Of course, the fact that David Mamet has updated the play helps, too, making it feel even more contemporary. American Conservatory Theater, in association with Kansas City Repertory Theatre, is staging a sharply etched production directed by ACT's Carey Perloff and featuring a first-rate cast and design team.

The title comes from the English family led by patriarch Mr. Voysey (Ken Ruta), who inherited the family's financial management firm from his late father. Mr. Voysey and his wife (Barbara Marsh Oliver) have six adult children, but only Edward (Anthony Fusco) is directly involved in the firm. When the action begins, Edward has discovered that Mr. Voysey has been systematically looting clients' accounts to support himself and the family. The drama begins when Edward confronts his father about the situation in Act 1. In Act 2, after the death of Mr. Voysey, Edward tells his family about the problem. Each sibling has a different reaction, especially when Edward says that he intends to try to right the wrongs over time, but his siblings' allowances will be cut. The problem is complicated by others who knew of or learn about the fraud, primarily Peacey (Mark Robbins), an associate in the firm; George Booth (Gary Neal Johnson), a major client of the firm; and the Rev. Evan Colpus (Julian López-Morillas).

The tension rises gradually as Edward tries to navigate the emotional and financial shoals of the legacy left by his father, a wealthy, highly respected man. He receives quiet moral support from his longtime girlfriend, Alice Maitland (René Augesen). It's an absorbing story with parallels to the downfall of Enron, WorldCom, HealthSouth and other companies led about by unscrupulous executives eager to pad their personal fortunes and keep stockholders happy.

The cast is superb, led by Fusco as the conflicted Edward and Ruta as his patrician father. The siblings are ably portayed by Mark Robbins, Cheryl Weaver, Andy Murray, Stephen Caffrey and Lauren Grace. The non-family members are terrific, especially Augesen as Alice. The handsome drawing room set is by Ralph Funicello, with dramatic lighting by Russell H. Champa and sound by Garth Hemphill. The elegant period costumes are by Deborah Dryden.

"The Voysey Inheritance" is a must-see, not only because it's such good theater but also because it offers so much insight into today's corporate greed and hubris.

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