|Photo credit: Joan Marcus|
Based on Washington Square by Henry James, the play is about shy Catherine Sloper (Jessica Chastain), who is a constant disappointment to her father, Dr. Austin Sloper (David Straithairn), because she cannot live up to his memory of her mother. Morris Townsend (Dan Stevens), a handsome but poor man, takes a liking to her, but her father suspects he is after her money. It's really a stretch to think of Chastain as a plain girl who no one would ever want to marry for anything other than money, even with a bad wig.
I don't want to reveal anything for those who haven't seen it, but I think it's a testament to the play that it really is a mystery for the audience as to whether or not Morris loves Catherine. I also think it's just as much about whether Dr. Sloper loves his daughter (I believe he does, despite the cruel things he says to her). I suppose it's saying something about this production, directed by Moises Kaufman, that I left not thinking about the performances (with the exception of Judith Ivey as Catherine's Aunt Penniman), but about how invested I was in the story.
I'm curious whether those of you who have seen it who weren't familiar with the play were as taken by it as I was. Also, are there any other productions that were criticized for not being as good as past productions, but that introduced you to plays that you liked?