Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Caldwell Theater: The Voysey Inheritance (3 Reviews)

Caldwell Theatre Company previewed its production of David Mamet's Adaptation of The Voysey Inheritance, by Harley Granville-Barker, on November 8, 2009, and opened November 13.
Edward Voysey has a dilemma. His father, patriarch of the family investment company, has announced that he has run the company as a Ponzi scheme for years. Sound familiar? Amazingly, this play was written over 100 years ago. Now it has been impeccably updated by America’s premier playwright, David Mamet. What will Edward do? Turn his back on his family and immeasurably harm the firm’s clients? Or does he work diligently to make amends yet compromise his morality in the process? The Voysey Inheritance is an examination of the moral complexities that Bernie Madoff and other financial schemers may never have considered.
Clive Cholerton directed a cast that included Katherine Amadeo, Stephen Anthony, Jim Ballard, Cliff Burgess, Dennis Creaghan, John Felix, Peter Haig, Terry Hardcastle, Kathryn Lee Johnston, Dan Leonard, Marta Reiman, and Lourelene Snedeker.

The Sun-Sentinel has declined to review this production.*

John LaRiviere reviewed for
The Caldwell brings us a timely morality play that examines the themes of greed and honor centering around a ponzi scheme that is all too reminiscent of the recent Bernie Madoff scandal.
Set designer Tim Bennett has provided a lovely Edwardian drawing-room as the setting for this production. Terry Hardcastle is formidable as Edward. He has volumes of dialogue with no time off stage.
Jim Ballard is well cast as the blustering Major Booth Voysey...
Some undeniably wonderful acting moments exist between Hardcastle and Peter Haig (Mr. Voysey), and Hardcastle and Dennis Creaghan (Mr. George Booth), because they are fine actors and have been well directed. Though The Voysey Inheritance may not be everyone's cup of tea, the production at the Caldwell Theatre features some impeccable acting.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper (it's a three-fer; you may have to scroll down):
The script that Caldwell artistic director Clive Cholerton has chosen is a streamlined adaptation by David Mamet, who has staked much of his career on the machinations of con men. Sticking to the formal verbal style of the period, his characters speak in complete, articulate sentences, rather than the conversational fragments for which he is known. That has a way of making the situation seem less urgent, diminishing the emotional stakes, turning the play into too much of a cerebral exercise, though still intriguing.

Like Madoff’s victims, Cholerton threw financial caution to the wind in selecting a play that calls for 12 actors, but at least he was able to attract some of South Florida’s best. In addition to Hardcastle as priggish Edward, standouts in the not-a-weak-link company include Peter Haig as pragmatic, wily Mr. Voysey, Jim Ballard as Edward’s hotheaded, militaristic brother Booth and Dennis Creaghan as a longtime client who learns his holdings have disappeared.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
(Artistic Director Clive Cholerton's) theater, like many others, has suffered terribly through the sudden insolvency of many of SoFla's most charitable retirees. Yet here he is, spewing tons of cash on a play that seeks to humanize... the enemy!

And a fine job he does too.
...a host of eclectic, electric characters brought to life by a larger and more talent-rich cast than any assembled in recent memory. Dennis Creaghan brays his best as the late Voysey's richest and most imperious customer. If possible, Jim Ballard brays even better as Major Booth Voysey, who works himself into an epic fit of moral indignation at the thought of having to sacrifice a bit of his allowance so Daddy's clients may be repaid... Stephen G. Anthony (as the elder Voysey's fey prodigal scion), Cliff Burgess (as his fey artist scion), John Felix (as a blustery client and clergyman), and Dan Leonard (as a slithery little lackey who nevertheless manages to ape the classiness of those around him) all share the stage, outshouting one another, and despite the crowded environs, they craft whole, clearly delineated, and perfectly believable characters whom you come to know in an instant and whose terrible greedy squealings haunt your car ride home.
There are women in The Voysey Inheritance as well, but with one exception, their parts are a lot less interesting than the boys'...The exception is Marta Reiman, who is devastating as Alice Maitland, Edward Voysey's fiancée. Onstage, she and Hardcastle blend as perfectly as cream and coffee; she, ferocious, full of love and distress and anger and strength; he, confused, then hurt, then angry, then certain.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Clive Cholerton, in his first season as the Caldwell's artistic director, hasn't stinted on anything, and he delivers a vintage play that is -- particularly in a region where today's notorious Ponzi schemers found more than a few of their victims -- chillingly relevant.
The cast, almost all South Florida-based actors, does an impressive job of conveying both emotional urgency and the restrictive manners of an earlier era.
Haig is a confident, slippery opponent as the elder Voysey. Dennis Creaghan turns formidable as George Booth, a longtime family friend and investor whose outraged sense of violation is tempered by self-interest. As Peacey, an employee who knew about the scheme but kept quiet for his own reasons, Dan Leonard exudes a low-grade menace. Stephen G. Anthony and Cliff Burgess both have powerful moments as Edward's disenchanted brothers.
Even given Mamet's rewrite, The Voysey Inheritance remains a talk-filled play of its era. But is also a drama that comments timelessly on our own.
The Voysey Inheritance plays at the Caldwell Theatre through December 13, 2009.

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