Ariana Z. 10/17 The Heiress

Wednesday night our class traveled to the “Walter Kerr Theatre” to see the Broadway production, “The Heiress.” Since I was aware of the plot before attending the play, I assumed that there was little about the play that would shock me. I must admit, however, after witnessing the end of the play I was completely awestruck.

What stood out to me about the theatre itself was its small size, small that is, when compared to the immense size of The Metropolitan Opera House. Once the play began, I noticed that it had almost no set changes. The only things I saw change were the placement of the tables and the different hues of lighting at the windows to signify the moments of day and night in the play. In fact, the lighting could arguably be its own character in the play. In many instances it dictated when the audience should laugh or feel sympathy for Catherine. And ultimately it served for a chilling and captivating ending. The end of this play was what truly dumbfounded me. It paved the way for such mixed reactions I had to Catherine’s actions. At first I believed that she yet again fell for Morris (as Professor Kahan warned us that the play had a shocking ending) which led me to exclaim “What a stupid girl!,” then a few moments later I assumed she was going to kill Morris or perhaps even herself!

A few complaints I had about the plays portrayal were that Morris was more likable than I would have preferred. I would rather I dislike the villain than actually accept him. Also, the lack of the party for Miriam, though not a major issue, was in my opinion missed. One last complaint, was how little time they allowed to pass between Catherine and Morris’ break up.

My favorite moment would have to be the tension that was built as Morris stood outside her door and became increasingly violent and impatient as Catherine would not answer. Her independence and new found wisdom was personified as Jessica Chastain, who portrayed Catherine beautifully, shut the lights off slowly, one by one. This coupled with the shrills of Dan Steven’s (Morris) voice calling for Catherine left the audience speechless.

Ultimately, what I took from this play is that despite how amazing a book is, seeing it in a different medium can lead you to truly ask, which is better the book, or the play?