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.
Bravo Denver Center. Bravo David Mamet.
Why do stories matter?
Because listening to someone else’s story is the only way we will ever understand why they do the crazy, foolish, stupid, insane things they do. The opposite is also true. Stories are our only hope of ever being understood. It’s why we’ll tell our story to anyone who’ll listen, even a stranger in a bar.
Saw a riveting performance of the play August: Osage County at the Denver Center last week. The playwright, Tracy Letts, brings thirteen members of one family together. The patriarch of the family has gone missing. They fear his suicide. They fear not knowing. They fear responsibility, blame, duty. Everyone is living one lie or another because they fear the truth. The situation forces them to talk; they tell things they never told before. The result is devastating or enlightening depending on how each character chooses to handle the information. The laughs are real and frequent. The sadness cuts deep.
The play is also a perfect example of how we build our lives on our version of the truth–until someone tells us something new. Then more than our story changes; our whole life changes. Story matters, indeed.
August: Osage County starring Estelle Parsons plays through August, 2009, at the Denver Center. Don’t miss it. But don’t let them seat you on the 4th balcony. Evidently that’s reserved for season ticketholders, like me! That’s another story.