The Heiress

Washington Square is a character in The Heiress.
Washington Square is a character in The Heiress.

In New York, it’s always about the real estate. The dude from Downton Abbey still coveted a spot on Washington Park North.

Even in 1880, when Henry James wrote Washington Square, the story upon which The Heiress is based, the gentleman caller loved Catherine Sloper for her Greenwich Village real estate, 16 Washington Square.

I love the story of The Heiress and oh, all right, I love all girl/women empowerment stories! I took a seminar about Henry James in college. In one of his prefaces, James wrote that it was far better for an artist to never marry so that the artist could focus on his or her art, sublimating sexual urges for creative ones.

I wrote about this in another blog post: Work pays better than marriage.

James never married and was incredibly prolific — coincidence? ….He thought marriage was deadly to artists, particularly writers.

I love the fierce independence, social awkwardness and artistic drive of Catherine Sloper, our hero.

The acting in this production of The Heiress was awesome. When I saw it Tuesday night, I kept thinking, ‘Man, that Jessica Chastain can act! She looks nothing like the CIA agent she played in Zero Dark Thirty,’ which I had just seen the day before. (Zero Dark Thirty was wonderful, too, in terms of fricken’ amazing women who can do so much with tenacity and surveillance, much more effective war-time tools than torture!)

‘Chastain’s a great actress,’ I thought. ‘Great actors can make themselves look so completely different.’ After the show, my husband informed me that the understudy, Mairin Lee, had gone on for Chastain that night. Wow! I’ve got to read the playbill before the show apparently! I did not know that.

In 1995, I saw this show with Cherry Jones and Michael Cumpsty (love them!). What I remember from that performance is how Jones sat alone at the end, completely satisfied and completely alone.

As we left the theater, I told my husband, ‘Even if Catherine had hooked up with the dude from Downtown Abbey and the marriage didn’t work out because he might’ve just loved her only for her apartment, she still might’ve gotten some awesome children out of the marriage. And that would be wonderful. That is wonderful.”

curtainI saw this show with a cool bunch of fashion, mommy and travel bloggers and before the show, we had pizza and schmoozed at John’s Pizza on 44th Street. Yummy. (Disclosure: I wasn’t paid to write this post, but was given the ticket and dinner.)

The real estate on Washington Park is not permanent. You only get to live there a little while on 48th street. (The show runs until February 10th.)

Even briefly, you can join Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey and Jessica Chastain (or her replacement) and live like Catherine Sloper.

Sure, you may be plain and witless, but you get a glorious, delicious home and hot guys itching to marry you.

Just remember James’s word to the wise: marriage may derail your creativity.

For more info, visit
The Heiress on Twitter: @TheHeiressBway and Facebook 

Thanks for the ticket, Mama Drama.

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2 thoughts on “The Heiress

  1. I don’t know if I’ll get to see this production, which sounds wonderful, but I love the play, and loved the movie with Olivia de Haviland and Montgomery Clift, which I watched numerous times before reading Washington Square– and didn’t realize it was the same story until I suddenly realized I knew what was going to happen. I love Catherine Sloper! I believe there’s some truth to James’ concern about marriage and family at least competing with creative efforts, but my true hope is that those relational experiences will ultimately enrich our creative output!

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