Review Roundup: What Do Critics Think of THE HEIRESS at Arena Stage?

Review Roundup: What Do Critics Think of THE HEIRESS at Arena Stage?THE HEIRESS is playing at Arena Stage in Washington, DC through March 10, 2019.

Finding one's voice is never easy. Socially awkward and plain Catherine Sloper has struggled her entire life under the disapproving and resentful gaze of her father. It is the unexpected visit from a suitor full of sincerity and instantaneous devotion that awakens Catherine's long abandoned hopes of true love and the opportunity for a fresh start. A devastating betrayal forces the scorned Catherine to learn how to roar, realize her truth and take control of her destiny.

For tickets and more information, please visit https://www.arenastage.org/tickets/season-landing/the-heiress/

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Tim Treanor, DC Theatre Scene: The four leads play these insights with astonishing clarity. Harris' Catherine, sitting with her cousin and her cousin's company, appears to be on the border of physical illness. Her body closes and occasionally shakes; she stares at nothing, or at some object beyond the confines of the room, as if she wanted to be instantly transmitted there. Whalen as Dr. Austin Sloper - as good in this as I've ever seen him - shows a father who loves by the Book of Obligation, but who constantly struggles with exasperation, and beyond that with despair. And redoubtable Robinette gives us an Aunt Lavinia whose fluttery mannerism disguise a heart capable of deadly calculation.

Sara Dudley Brown, Zebra: The elegant, but spare set design by Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams and sumptuous costumes by Ivania Stack for the women in mostly bright pretty colors perfect for the hoop-skirted antebellum period, as well as the expert direction by Deputy Artistic Director, Seema Sueko, make great use of the in-the-round situation in Arena's Fichhandler Auditorium. The lighting by Sherrice Mojgani was perfection and the sound by Emma M. Wilk was quite good, which is difficult at best in that large, but handsome space.

Rachael Goldberg, BroadwayWorld: Perhaps the biggest problem with The Heiress is that it's difficult to invest in. It's hard to root for Catherine beyond hoping she tells Morris off, and that's more about dislike of him than support for her. None of the characters are particularly likeable (except for some of the supporting cast), so it's difficult to care about the stakes. There are glimmers of interesting substance (such as Dr. Sloper being confronted by his sisters about his absurdly high expectations for his daughter) that are unfortunately dropped without seeing them through. The show covers common themes, but doesn't offer anything new or interesting, nor does it offer anything familiar in a noticeably skilled or engaging manner. In the end, the audience simply invests in telling off Morris, because it's the only way they can connect emotionally. After all, we can all get behind telling off a bad ex. It's just a shame that The Heiress doesn't give us the opportunity to go deeper than that.

Ramona Harper, DC Metro Theater Arts: The Heiress will cause anyone who has ever been stood up, abandoned or betrayed in a relationship to wince. There was a collectively held breath that never seemed to exhale until the surprising end of the play. And the audience's collective blood pressure rises during the tense, late-night hour when Catherine anxiously waits for Morris to sweep her away to marry at a nearby parsonage. She is emotionally shattered when Morris jilts her. Laura C. Harris' meltdown is painful to watch and touches a nerve that is familiar to anyone who has been deceived in love.

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