“The Heidi Chronicles” is a reflection of the turmoil of the women’s movement and the idea of having it all, as seen through one woman’s eyes.
Playwright Wendy Wasserstein was called the “female voice of her generation” by the Voice of America, and her Pulitzer prize-winning drama, The Heidi Chronicles, lived up to its reputation in a recent interpretation by Director Bridget Kathleen O’Leary.
Presented by the Northeastern University Department of Theatre in the Studio Theatre, the performance revealed the emotional heart of the women’s movement via flashbacks of the main character, Heidi Holland.
An intimate space was created for the personal examination of one woman’s life. Although the Studio Theatre is small, the intimacy complemented the emotional theme of the play.
I particularly enjoyed the stylistic choice used to set the stage, it was flanked by old-fashioned picture frames used as time markers, showing prominent events as the characters moved through time in the flashbacks. They also complemented the character Heidi, who in her later years became an art historian who related her life experiences with artwork that she showcased.
The use of a revolving wall was an interesting choice onstage, one that worked well. It created various levels of depth for each scene and provided a backdrop for projections.
The acting for the entire piece was superb, and the contrast between two of the leading roles was the star of the show.
Heidi Holland, played by Kira Topalian, and her once-lover turned-friend Scoop Rosenbaum, played by Grant Terzakis, had an interesting dynamic. They had essentially switched roles by the end of the play.
Heidi started out as a young woman who was initially passive and unwilling to make a stand for herself, but she turns into a quietly confident woman who does what she wants to be happy.
Scoop, on the other hand, started out confidently with his life put together, freely spouting liberal ideas. However, he ended up being trapped in an idealistic life with seemingly no idea of what he actually wants.
“The Heidi Chronicles” is a play that I would see over and over again. The cast members put on a remarkable performance and created an emotional connection to the crusade for gender equality.
We, the next generation, can feel the effects of the feminist movement even decades later. It is also a reminder that having it all – one of the central ideals – is still an unrealistic concept and may not even result in happiness.
Personal happiness comes from within, not from societal ideals. This is a strong message, especially in our current era where much of people’s lives are revealed on social media and the internet for perusal.
Photos courtesy of Christopher McKenzie for Northeastern University Department of Theatre