Granville Barker told this tale in 1905, in high Edwardian style, ornate, rounded, and thick with detail. Mamet, with only minimal violation of the period tone, streamlines and compresses it. Picture a change from William Morris wallpaper to a clean-lined, jagged art deco pattern. Sometimes it's slightly too jagged: Important secondary characters like the spinster sister and black-sheep brother get short shrift; the relation between Edward and his perplexed fiancï¿½e, Alice (Samantha Soule), loses density. But in many ways Mamet makes events tauter and more lucid; despite Barker's undoubted genius, his playwriting has a woolly streak. It can still hold power, as recent productions at the Mint Theater and Theatre for a New Audience have demonstrated (the Mint gave the New York premiere of Barker's original Voysey text only a few years back), but its spirit emerges happily enough from Mamet's terseness.
Slightly less happy, though, is David Warren's production, which tends to skate over the deep undercurrents that weigh down the Voysey clan: The women come off muted or vague while the men tend to lapse into generalized shouting. (C.J. Wilson, as the military brother, andï¿½astonishinglyï¿½Peter Maloney, as the firm's wealthiest client, both spoil potentially fine performances that way.) Still, the story, which couldn't be more up-to-date, rings loud and clear, the designers catch the atmosphere wonderfully, and Stuhlbarg, quiet, methodical, whispery, makes a rivetingly creepy embodiment of integrity at a moral crossroad.