The Voysey Inheritance is a play written by Harley Granville-Barker in 1905. It centers on English gentleman Edward Voysey and his dilemma when his father reveals to him that he has been running a Ponzi scheme for most of his life using his clients' money to speculate on various business ventures without their knowledge or consent, then drawing in more clients into the scheme to get the money to pay off the earlier clients. Edward's world is shaken enough by this news and the implication that most everything his family owns was paid for with essentially stolen money. Then his father dies, leaving Edward with the responsibility over the business, and well, let's just say things get worse.
It was recently adapted into a four-act play by David Mamet, and that was actually before the topic of Ponzi schemes became so relevant again thanks to Bernie Madoff.
The original play can be read in full here.
This play contains examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation / Compressed Adaptation: Mamet's version, which trims close to an hour and runs smoothly.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Mr. Voysey uses this to justify his scheming.
- The Ghost: Hugh's wife, Beatrice, in the new Mamet version.
- Mamet Speak: Mamet's version notably averts this.
- One Steve Limit: Defied in a particularly confusing example, with the elder Voysey's friend Mr. George Booth and his military son, Major Booth Voysey.
- Our Acts Are Different: Notable in that the original play is five acts, but Mamet's adaptation condenses it into four.