The New Theatre Hits The Heights With “The
Productions may come, have
their appointed run, and fade from the proscenium of the New Theatre,
Bromley, but it will be a long time, I predict, before a future show
tops “The Heiress” in the quality of its acting, production and
The play, by Ruth and Augustus
Goetz from the moving Henry James novel, “Washington Square”, is a
first-class piece of theatre - and one of my favourites - and the cast
assembled by David Poulson could hardly be bettered.
From the well-trained parlour-maid
(Elizabeth Moorefield) to the principals, father and daughter, each
player slots into his or her appointed characterisation with precision
and a perfection not often seen.
And the superb setting,
designed by Paul Mayo, is so splendid and so authentically detailed
that it was not surprising that it drew a long round of applause.
Set in a wealthy doctor’s
house in 1850, the elaborate costumes are delightful, complementing
and enhancing the magnificent parlour of Dr Sloper.
And what a wonderfully
expressive Dr Sloper Patrick Cargill makes, meticulous in every move,
every nuance. He has
dignity and a commanding presence, so essential for the patriarchal
doctor, and can hold a pause and the audience with it, for longer than
most actors today.
Opposite him as the some what
gawky and unloved daughter, Catherine, is Anne Stallybrass, splendid
in her absolute command of the role and its requirements.
The timidity, the embarrassment in company, the inability
easily to express herself, all came over with the consummate ease of
an accomplished and highly talented actress.
And behind the barrier one
sensed the imprisoned depth of feeling and sensitiveness of the
frustrated young woman well endowed with money, but no poise.
Anne Stallybrass as Catherine confronts her father,
by Patrick Cargill, in David Poulson's production of
"The Heiress" at the New, Bromley
(c) The Stage & Television Today
As her avowed lover, Martin
Jarvis gives a sterling portrayal of impassioned sincerity which
completely deceives the heiress, Catherine, and only occasionally does
a gesture, a pause, a query or an expression betray his concern for
the monetary stake which is his prime concern.
Cecily Paget-Bowman is the
fluttering sister of the doctor, well meaning, and kindly, but no
match for the penetrating insight of the doctor.
Barbara Ogilvie, as Mrs
Montgomery, on the other hand, is not to be caught out or trapped by
the doctor’s searching questions, and leave him unsatisfied on
certain aspects of his prospective son-in-law’s character.
A nice cameo, this.
The smaller parts are
exceptionally well acted and match the standard of the principals.
Margot Thomas is the medico’s other sister, Elizabeth, Jan
Francis his niece and Alan Leith her fiancé and later her husband.
The lighting, with one or two
minor first night slips, is excellent and the classical entr’acte
music suitable and pleasant.
But why is Catherine’s
travelling bag, supposedly full of clothes, not heavier so that when
she drops it it does not bounce as though half empty - which I suspect
© Kentish Times
Stallybrass and Patrick Cargill
- Copyright DiMar