The Heiress (October 17, 2012)

My first Broadway play. Wow, what an experience! Since this was my first Broadway experience, I really didn’t know what to expect. The theater was beautifully designed. Even though we were pretty far back in the theater, the view of the stage was relatively good. Once I got into my seat, I couldn’t wait for the play to start.

In the opening act, we were introduced to the main characters. Right off the bat, I knew I was going to like the cast. Jessica Chastain, in my opinion, was a great choice to play Catherine. I like how she switched personalities from minute to minute. When Morris was around, she acted awkward and shy, yet, when she was alone, she was lively and witty. David Strathairn, who played Dr. Austin Sloper, also did a fantastic job. I would not have thought of David Strathairn to play Austin, but after seeing him on stage, I would reconsider. I was not really impressed with the character Morris, played by Dan Stevens. Stevens is a good actor, but I do not think that he fit the character. He seemed to be a little too charming. The character of Morris was intended to be a jerk, uncaring about Catherine and caring more about her money. It appeared that Morris actually developed feelings for Catherine in his actions and words, contrary to the plot and back story.

As for the plot, I feel that the playwright and directors took a few too many liberties from the original novel, for better or for worse. For example, Morris is introduced to Catherine by Marian, rather than Mrs. Penniman. That changes the course of the plot because the whole story is centered on the fact that Mrs. Penniman forces Morris onto Catherine instead of allowing her to develop her own feelings. In the play, it seems that Catherine genuinely falls for Morris, without the help of the other characters. In addition, Catherine does not live to please her father in the play as much as in the book. She played a more oppositional role on the stage. For instance, she fought with her father about writing her out of his will. She even agreed to help him write her out.

Finally, the ending. I absolutely loved it! I thought it was a lot more dramatic and theatrical than the ending in the novel. In the last act, Morris was at the house with Mrs. Penniman when the family returns home early. Austin, who was very sick, dies soon after. Morris and Catherine plan to elope, but Morris doesn’t come back that night for her. It turns out that he has chosen to go to Louisiana and California without her. He returns a year later, asking to escape again. Catherine bizarrely agrees, and Morris runs home to pack. While he is gone, Catherine turns to Mrs. Penniman and says something to the effect of, “He wanted my money, and now he wants my heart too.” From the way she said that, it appeared that she might in fact kill him. However, as a plot twist, Catherine closes the windows shades, turns off most of the lights and has the maid lock and bolt the door when Morris arrives. Morris proceeds to bang and scream at the door. After a few seconds, she kills the lights and quietly walks upstairs to her room, leaving him out in the cold. Curtain drops. Amazing!