The Denver Center just closed The Voysey Inheritance–-an excellent production. The play was adapted by David Mamet from one written in 1905. Adapted, not revised. Seemingly nothing changes when it comes to greed, guilt and financial corruption.
Edward, the heir to a trust and estate law firm, discovers that his father has been raiding the accounts. When confronted, his father shrugs. He’ll eventually get it all right, he says. He always does. This is just a reversal–the result of some bad investments. Unfortunately he dies leaving the son the problem. Edward can expose the shortage, ruining his father’s good name, and leaving many penniless. Or he can continue to juggle the books and hope to get things right, or righter than they currently are. Whose interests should he put first–his family’s, close friends, small investors, the law? Even ledger books are never black and white.
Besides money, the play raises the question of why we allow cycles of economic corruption and collapse. Does history inevitably repeat? Or does it repeat because we all keep hoping for an economic advantage, meaning we’re willing to look the other way?
A good story raises those kinds of questions, which is why a good story tells us more than figures in a column, no matter how they add or don’t add up.