Monday, June 05, 2006

The Voysey Inheritance

This National Theatre revival of the play by Harley Granville-Barker is playing at present at the Lyttleton. I went to see it on Saturday with S., at a matinee. I’d never been to a production at the National before, so the steeply raked seating in the Circle came as rather a surprise, but the view was very good.

The play opens in a solicitor’s office in Lincoln’s Inn in the early years of the twentieth century. Edward Voysey (played by Dominic West), has just discovered that his father (played by Julian Glover) has for years been embezzling money from his clients and speculating. The principled (and rather priggish) Edward cannot believe how lightly his father appears to take this admission of wrong-doing, and must deliberate his whole future. Later on in the course of the play, Edward informs the rest of his (rather large) family of their father’s criminal activities, and is aghast at their acceptance of these, and by their insistence that to go on doing the same is the only thing to do. He decides what the right thing is to do, and manages to stick to doing it, honestly and without being tempted to follow his father’s path.

Despite the subject matter, the play is funny, being well-observed rather than witty. Edward’s elder brother, Booth, is one of the better comic characters, being “booming” and pompous, and their mother provides laughter by being unable to hear anyone speak. In fact, the whole play was very well-acted (though a few of the actors appeared to have problems with projection, seeming to shout rather than talk), and well-staged, with beautiful sets.

Perhaps it was a little pricey (over £30 for a ticket), but the matinee was sold out, testament to the good reviews this show has had. It’s certainly well-worth seeing.



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