The Heidi Chronicles: still relevant
It’s easy to say that Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Heidi Chronicles” is dated. After all, it focuses on a young woman’s determination to become an art historian, but the play is set in the 1960s through the ‘80s and she has to deal with the great debate – motherhood vs career. Happily, for most women the choice is no longer problematic and women can and do choose both. Nonetheless, Heidi does take the audience through the women’s liberation era as well as the McGovern for President era. That seems rather passé now. However, thanks to Michael R. Mele’s direction, which gives a nod to history and a contemporary spin, the play is still pertinent. The time saving element here is a video collection of important moments as well as important women. The video, created by the director, is superior and a pleasure to watch. It actually injects excitement, when the play itself gets wordy.
This Eastbound Theatre production features a cast of fine actors who all deliver solid performances. There is an exception. The scene featuring a baby shower brings out caricatures instead of characters via overacting. Otherwise, the cast pulls off some very memorable characters. For instance, Tayrn Chorney as Heidi is consistently believable. She never steps out of character or overacts. Her performance is eloquent. Whether she is delivering an impromptu speech or lecturing on art history, Chorney delivers the goods or, as the character Scoop Rosenbaum would say, “She gets an A+.”
Ryan Hendrickson is a natural as Scoop, the journalist who loves Heidi, but wants a wife who is not his intellectual superior. Scoop opts for a woman who wants babies. He gets her and then has affairs on the side. Hendrickson is able to act the cad while being irresistibly charming as well. Heidi does have her problems with men. She falls for Scoop, smartens up and then falls for Peter, who is gay. Both men remain her close friends throughout her life. Jim Norton plays Peter with a genuine sensitivity. Confident and easygoing, he makes his character a most likeable fellow.
Others contributing to the success of this show are: Holly Fasciano, Ash Lago, Jen Berlin, Samantha Holomakoff, and Matthew Casey. Kevin Pelkey’s all-white set is essentially non-descript, which allows for appropriate props and a back wall that performs as a large video screen. Donald Rowe’s lighting design highlights the stage strategically and Michael R. Mele’s sound design is most effective.
Props ranging from a red-checkered tablecloth on a small dinner table to a McGovern-for-President rally poster are credited to Nancy A. Herman and Anne James.
While some of the play does drag a bit in the middle, overall, this is a fine production of a play that won a Tony Award as well as a Pulitzer Prize. It plays at Eastbound Theatre through June 19. Eastbound Theatre is a division of Milford’s Fine Arts Council. Box office: 203-882-0969.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org