The Heidi Chronicles at Main Street: Well-Done But Outdated
Heidi (Cheryl Kaplan) and Susan (Jen Lucy) in The Heidi Chronicles at Main Street Theater
The Setup: Consider Heidi Holland. In 1988, when Wendy Wasserstein wrote about her in her signature iconic play The Heidi Chronicles, Heidi was emblematic of her generation. She had struggled with feminism, she had overcome male domination, she was independent and strong. The play was such a touchstone that it received both the Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. In hindsight, though, Heidi now seems a little passé. Like a true touchstone, eventually society caught up with her.
The Execution: As she comments in the play, Heidi's a "highly informed spectator" of her life. She watches. She talks a good game, but she doesn't "do." Her friends do. They may be wrong in their choices and make mistakes, big juicy ones, but they move; they're always moving. Heidi splashes but stays in place. They change personas like fashion, but Heidi's comfortable the way she is. She's loveable and played most winsomely by Cheryl Kaplan, so that we know she'd be a great friend, like she is to Peter, her gay best friend (David Wald), who is closer to her than family. She's wise and fun, but doesn't seem quite so admirable as she once did. For one thing, except for Peter, she has abysmal taste in men, carrying an unrequited torch for louse Scoop Rosenbaum (Justin Doran), who could no more be faithful to her than he is with his own wife (Amanda Baird). Through today's lens, Heidi's friends are much more interesting: Lesbian, in-your-face Fran (Stephanie Holladay Earl) or career woman deluxe Susan (Jen Lucy) go through seismic changes that Heidi can only dream of. Sure, she becomes a respected art professor, and two of her astute lectures open each act, but even she wryly acknowledges that she can't have it all and feels betrayed. Wald and Doran are deliriously impressive in their roles, bringing out hidden lives with surgical precision.
The Verdict: So, is Heidi truly happy? With this fine, perceptive production, she'd better be.
Through December 19. Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Blvd. 713-524-6706.
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