Production 11 The Heiress

The HeiressBy Ruth and Augustus Goetz

Performed on Thu 16th to Sat 18th June 1958 at St. George's Hall

 

 

The Cast

The Cast

Maria (the parlourmaid) Molly Fitzgerald
Dr. Austin Sloper Phil Casey
Mrs. Lavinia Penniman (his sister) Clare Bradshaw
Catherine (his daughter) Anne Norman
Mrs. Elizabeth Almond (his sister) Dorrie Sherwin
Marian Almond (his niece) Brenda Harvey
Arthur Townsend (Marian’s fiancé) Roger Bradshaw
Morris Townsend (Arthur’s cousin) Charles Hutchins
Mrs. Montgomery (Morris’s sister) Doris Cohen

The Heiress Cast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View the Gallery

View the Gallery

 

Previews/Reviews

Previews/Reviews

The Heiress

A Young Woman in Search of a Husband

The Heiress to be presented by St. George’s Church Drama Guild next week was summed up quite simply by Sir Beverley Baxter a few years ago. The tale of a young woman in search of a husband, he wrote. A dramatisation by Ruth and Augustus Goetz of a novel written by Henry James in 1880, this is one of the subtlest and dramatically entertaining plays to be produced in Deal. First seen in this country at The Haymarket Theatre in February, 1949, since then it has been filmed and televised with success. The role of Dr. Sloper, played at The Haymarket Theatre and in the film by Sir Ralph Richardson, will be taken next week by Phil Casey. He is a New York physician in the fashionable Washington Square, and in receipt of an annual income of $20,000. Unknown to himself he despises his only daughter (Anne Norman), who has an income of $10,000 a year in her own right. Because in coming into the world, Catherine killed the doctor’s wife, whom he adored to the point of idolatry. Robbed of understanding and sympathy, Catherine becomes introspective, shy and gauche. All the eligible young men of New York’s social set shun her. But then Morris Townsend (Charles Hutchins) turns up. An attractive youth, and a cousin of the family, he falls for Catherine and she accepts his proposal of marriage. But the doctor diagnoses him as a pure fortune hunter. Although Dr. Sloper decrees that if the couple marry, he will leave his $20,000 to a clinic. Catherine and Morris arrange to elope. Morris leaves his bride-to-be standing on the doorstep. Two years elapse – Dr. Sloper has died; Catherine has grown into a woman of poise. Morris returns, and now he wants both Catherine and her money. They arrange to elope again, and we hear the cab arriving, and the ringing of the bell. In one of the most dramatic moments of this great play, Catherine instructs the maid Bolt the door; the lights go out and Catherine walks up to her room. The outraged lover hammers on the street door that will not admit him. The Heiress is a magnificent play for experienced players. Great things are expected of Conrad Sherwin’s production next week.

M.B.M.

The Heiress Cast

St. George’s Drama Guild in a Great Play
Some Fine Acting in The Heiress

Through the media of literature, theatre, screen, radio, television, there cannot be many not familiar with The Heiress, an adaptation by Ruth and Augustus Goetz of Henry James’ novel, Washington Square. This is a great and fascinating play; and last weekend it provided St. George’s Church Drama Guild with their most successful, as well as their most ambitious production. The story is unremarkable; but with Henry James’s obsession with human analysis, and the excellent dialogue that has been superimposed by the two adaptors, make this one of the truly magnificent works of the modern theatre. It should hardly be necessary to recount the plot. There are only three characters of substance – Dr. Austin Sloper, a wealthy New York physician, practising in the fashionable Washington Square of 1850; his only daughter, Catherine, a shy girl whom he has never forgiven for killing in childbirth the wife whom he adored; and Morris Townsend, the handsome young suitor who comes along to rescue her from spinsterhood, Dr. Sloper diagnoses Morris as a fortune hunter and takes his daughter off to Europe for six months. On their return, Morris is still waiting; the couple decide to elope. But, deprived of the $20,000 a year which would have accompanied Dr. Sloper’s blessing, the young man leaves Catherine waiting in the porch. Two years elapse. Dr. Sloper has died; Morris has returned. This time he wants both Catherine and and her money. And with a masterly stroke, the play reaches its ironic climax. Catherine, now a mature, hardened woman, allows Morris to make love to her; she agrees to go through the motions of elopement once again. And this time, it is she who leaves Morris, hammering away on the front door as, with complete absence of emotion, she draws the curtains, turns out the lights – and retires to bed with an oil lamp. The Heiress CastConrad Sherwin, the producer, caught just the right atmosphere; and he carefully and consistently allowed the tempo to mount giving the final scene a sense of impact. The setting and the décor, always a strong feature of this company’s productions, were on this occasion nothing short of a work of art; the backcloth behind the windows was especially realistic. The costumes hired professionally, were perfectly in period. The acting was also of a high standard. Phil Casey possessed the stature of Dr. Sloper, and his bassoprofundo voice was in tune with his rather severe conception of the part. Mr. Casey was at his best in his final scene, after he had pronounced his own death sentence. Here was the father craving sympathy from a daughter whom, perhaps unknown to himself, he had hated since birth. At this point, his performance touched moments of pathos, and his make-up was starkly realistic. Anne Norman scored a personal triumph as Catherine, the girl who, conscious of her father’s disapproval, becomes introspective, shy, even gauche. All this was conveyed in volumes by her clumsy entrance. The transformation into a woman of poise was achieved by a few subtle strokes; and particularly good was the crisp edge that crept into her delivery of those superb lines. In the scenes where she was left waiting with her luggage, Miss Norman gave a deeply-felt performance; and her final moment was played with commendable restraint. She might have climbed the stairs more slowly; but that was a small matter. Thirdly, there was Charles Hutchins as the cad. This is by no means the largest, but possibly the most difficult of the three parts. Producer and actor were faced with the problem of deciding at what point in the play Morris’s true intentions should be revealed. Personally I would say that Mr. Hutchins was on good ground in introducing Morris as a man of apparent good intentions. Not until the second act did he suggest the character as a blackguard, and even then it was done so gently as to leave one with lingering doubt. Of the rest, Clare Bradshaw was outstanding as the aunt – fussy, charming and rather vain. With increased confidence and improved voice production, Mrs. Bradshaw has become a considerable asset to this up-and-coming company. Brenda Harvey showed a fine determination to be heard in every nook and cranny of St. George’s Hall, and the others were Molly Fitzgerald, Dorrie Sherwin, Roger Bradshaw, and Doris Cohen.

M.B.M

Production Team

Production Team

Producer Conrad Sherwin
Set Construction Phil Casey, Henry Riley, Derek Llewellyn & John Varney
Furnishings Gladys Watson
Décor Gladys Watson & Bruce Houston
Lighting & Effects Robin Varney & Roger Bradshaw
Wardrobe Doris Cohen, assisted by Dorothy Philpott
Costumes Nellie Smith (Nottingham)
Make-up and Hairstyles Catherine Philpott
Prompt Violet Casey
Catering Messrs. J. P. Catt and Sons
Business Manager & Front of House Bert Bradshaw, assisted by Muriel Saunders & Eveline Hall
Programmes Youth Fellowship Members
Box Office Dorothy Philpott
Publicity Conrad Sherwin

The Heiress Cast