Kate Guentzel takes us inside the lost heart of The Heiress

Morris Townsend (John Catron) and Catherine Sloper (Kate Guentzel).

Morris Townsend (John Catron) and Catherine Sloper (Kate Guentzel).

There are plenty of ways to sum up the story of The Heiress, the classic stage adaptation of Henry James's Washington Square that is currently playing at the Jungle Theater. Perhaps the most fitting is this:

You reap what you sow.

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In a beautiful mid-19th-century home, young Catherine Sloper is trapped by the specter of her dead mother and the unfulfilled expectations of her overbearing father. He has hectored her for decades, calling attention to her every fault. And for the socially awkward and shy Catherine, that is a lot.

As Ruth and Augustus Goetz's Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama unfolds, Catherine finds an out via the attention of Morris Townsend, a young man with no visible means of support, but who possesses a soul that quickly sweeps the woman off her feet. 

Father Sloper isn't impressed at all by Morris, as he thinks the man is just a fortune hunter interested in his daughter's considerable wealth rather than her as a person. The tension among the three main character fuels most of the drama. By the end, Catherine has become someone very much like her father, and that's the real tragedy here.

Director Bain Boehlke crafts a sturdy and absolutely engrossing production that explores the depths of the various main characters. Real-life husband and wife Kate Guentzel and John Catron have obvious chemistry as Catherine and Morris. Jeffrey Hatcher, better known as a playwright, gives a measured and tough, but certainly understandable, performance as Doctor Sloper. His approach may lack sympathy, but Hatcher does show us that the Doctor has his daughter's interests in mind.

Still, his suspicions eventually infect Catherine, and Guentzel brings us inside to see her transformation from a naive youth to a woman hardened by the perceived cruelties of the world. 


The Heiress
Through Aug. 10
The Jungle Theater
2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.822.7063 or visit online.