The Voysey Inheritance
While it didn’t take a crystal ball to see the financial-sector implosion coming, the timing of this show’s opening, which fell on the eve of the biggest monetary bailout in American history, is pretty damn uncanny. The Voysey Inheritance concerns something very like an investment banking firm and the family that runs it; Edward, groomed to succeed his father, discovers that the old man has been cooking the books for years and pocketing the change. Though indignant, Edward soon realizes that simply coming clean will ruin the fortunes of both his clan and the company’s investors—a microcosm of the no-win quandary “too big to fail” firms have put us all in. So he quietly works to return the accounts to solvency himself—until a major investor and family friend calls his bluff on the capital that just isn’t there.
Harley Granville-Barker, critic, playwright, producer and actor (as well as a close colleague of George Bernard Shaw) wrote the 1901 source, which David Mamet has contemporized without exactly updating. Though thoughtful, socially conscious and supremely topical, it’s not what you’d call dramatically taut; swiftly proposing its two or three possible outcomes, it’s one of those stories you more or less wait for to end. Too-good-to-be-true Edward’s sanguine, Sydney Carton-esque stoicism in the face of possible incarceration also muddles the stakes. But Fox’s pitch-perfect portrayal is the sort of spellbinding performance that can carry a whole show on its back, and Darlow’s subtly fey turn as the found-out paterfamilias isn’t far behind.