The Ponzi Inheritance

from the play by

Harley Granville Barker

Cast & Crew
Ben Bonar; Mitchell McDermott;
Alison Daniels; Adrian Barnes;
Mitch McDermott; Lyndall Iron;
Sam Rushton; Bec Bignell;
Alison Albany, Vivianna Delgado.

Ronn Morris & Roz Riley:
Dramaturgy & additional text
Taylor Allen - Lighting
Hecate - Design
Jo Forbes - Choral work

Roz Riley - Director

Opening night comments on Factory Space Production:
That being said I think that you have every right to feel very proud for putting this production together, and for drawing such an entertaining production from the cast and the script. In my humble opinion - very well done. (Kevin Hardy)

We enjoyed ourselves very much.For me, it was very much about "inheritance" ... those attitudes and issues which our parents leave to us and what we pass on to our children. Hard to break the cycle. I am very much into the use of ladders on set too! Incredibly effective way of saying so much. (Deborah Mulhall, playwright)

itís a really good show. Youíve got a good cast and a good play, with great set, lighting, costume and staging, so all the ingredients are there for an excellent production, and I really enjoyed it. I donít know if this was intentional, but I was impressed to find that I really felt the difference between Voyseys and outsiders. It was as if Voyseys were tainted in some way Ė Edward in torment, Honour a busybody martyr, Booth a bully, Hugh the artist without a cause, whereas Alice, Beatrice, Peasey and the widow were more whole and healthy.
Set transformations were excellent, simple, effective. The singing worked well. I felt the need for some house music to come up with the house lights at interval, but I imagine thatís already planned.
The ladder-commentators were an excellent device, and visually very striking as well.
Only one thing bothered me: the chorus poem at the very end of the play (saying we should have children). I was baffled because I couldnít see how we arrived at this reversal of the earlier version. It contradicted what I got out of the rest of the play. I felt as if it had to be ironic, but it was presented as if it was genuine.
The play really engaged me or I wouldnít have so much to say! Audiences are going to love it, itís excellent, you and the cast should all be very proud. (Isla Borrell, actor)

The Ponzi Inheritance. (Star of the Sea Theatre, Manly. October 11th 2009)
Review By Wendy Lewis (Playwright, author, stage criticism website)
On stage there is a ladder. Itís in the shape of an A as ladders are. Itís the beginning. Itís about (social) climbing. Itís about building (wealth). Itís a pyramid shape just like the infamous Ponzi scheme that young Edward is about to face.
The characters dressed in overalls are bewildering at first. Are they the chorus? Why the khaki? (maybe there werenít enough pairs of white overalls to go round?) Why is she perched under the ladder? But gradually all is clear. These are the voices of reason, they describe the tangible, the knowable. They are the stage directions personified and it works a treat. The innocuous is brought to life. The mahogany furniture. The wood panelling. Hughís rather unsatisfactory clothing. Itís all there for us to visualise and appreciate. Mr Voysey. The patriarch. The pivot. He seems too nice at first. Softly spoken. His sparkling countenance is referred to more than once. He treats Edward altogether too gently without the usual contempt reserved for a son/heir who isnít performing (glimpses of Kerry Packer? Rupert Murdoch?) until failure drives him to rage. Peacey by contrast seems too aggressive to be just a lowly clerk. Well, her source of power becomes clear later on.
Edward is clearly troubled, spending nearly the entire play with a deeply furrowed brow. He is the worried son, pacing, hands rubbing together, an intense and effective study of a young man with a great moral dilemma.
His love interest Alice is a stand out. Their early scenes where she is so vulnerable and yet so down-to-earth are very moving. She manages to bring great depth and intellect to a 1900ís woman who, in reality, would have had little prospects.
Which takes us to another point. All the performances are strong. The vocal quality, the voice projection, the nuances, the articulation of profound philosophical statements effortlessly is much to the castís credit. ďThe world is using Edward upĒ is my favourite. But there are others. Like Mr Voyseyís declaration that there are three separate realms: family, business and money-making. Brings to mind the very recently deceased Mr Michael McGurk nee Rushford. To some he was a loving husband and great dad. To others he was a vicious brute. Did he keep those three spheres separate? Seems so, but they eventually caught up with him.
Beatrice is suitably intriguing. An elegant woman with a dilemma: do I love my loveable wastrel of a husband or do I pursue my own career? And if I choose the latter, how the hell do I pay for it? But is she truly ambitious or is she just playing?
Hugh is beautifully dissolute; the idealistic bohemian that never quite has the guts to make it on his own. He slumps in his chair and delivers his lines with a suitable throw-away kind of ennui.
Poor Honor the put-upon sister performs her role admirably. And Booth the blustering army man trying to do the right thing is an entertaining portrayal of a man utterly out of his depth yet still pretending to be completely in charge. His marital counselling of poor Beatrice and Hugh is particularly amusing.
And Mrs Booth, the real villain in the piece? She is well-drawn, all girly in her gorgeous crimson and black attire; but finally appearing bowed down, walking stick in hand as the years have taken their toll. Like Mr Voysey she could be more demanding, more objectionable, more antagonistic if she chose. Perhaps her (false) sweetness is enoughÖ
A play that echoes of Shakespeare, Shaw and good old fashioned morality yet resounds with modern moral choices. Are work and family separate? If ďfixingĒ something ruins everything else, should I attempt it? Should one ever waver from oneís principles? Is compromise shameful? And why does my family drive me mad?! Great questions and a great production. )
The Ponzi Inheritance - photographed by John Reeves