The Voysey Inheritance – June 2006

Experience: 6/10

By Harley Granville Barker

Directed by Peter Gill

Venue: Lyttelton Theatre

Date: Thursday 1st June 2006

Interesting. Steve and I saw a production of this play many years ago, also by the National, but put on in the Cottesloe. Admittedly, I’ve forgotten a lot about that production, but even so, there was a remarkable difference between the two. The previous production was naturally more intimate, seemed to put more emphasis on the scenes in the office, and had more weight to it, less humour. This current production feels more balanced; if anything, the scenes at the family home take precedence, and there’s a much lighter touch throughout. Perhaps it’s simply the difference in the political and social climates then and now, but the play seems very contemporary this time around, very relevant to today’s situations.

I did find the length of time between scenes a little frustrating. Although the elaborate sets created a strong sense of place and time, the pauses to change them over led to a bit of momentum being lost. And why did we need to see a tree at the back of the office building? Nobody went out into the garden or even looked out of a window.

Overall, I suspect I would prefer the earlier production, if I could remember it clearly, but this was a very good effort. Again, we were struck by how fresh some older plays can seem, if they’re well written.

© 2006 Sheila Evans at