REVIEW: Expect emotional insight, not happily ever after, from ‘Heidi’
THE GAZETTE Updated: November 1, 2007 at 12:00 am
“I’ve never been what you’d call a happy girl,” says the title character near the end of “The Heidi Chronicles,” Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of a committed feminist’s journey through adulthood.
Like much of what Heidi says in Wasserstein’s funny, smart and ultimately sad play — being produced by the Star Bar Players — it’s an understatement. In fact, Heidi is one of the stage’s great buzz kills. But in the hands of a master actress such as Alysabeth Clements, it’s also a great role. Clements manages to keep Heidi’s feelings mostly bottled up without sacrificing emotional range, depth or nuance. It’s a virtuoso performance — except that the word “virtuoso” seems wrong to describe something so unforced and natural.
Clements is well-matched by the men in Heidi’s life: Jude Bishop as Scoop and Dylan Mosley as Peter. “I’m arrogant and difficult, but I’m very smart, so you’ll put up with me,” Scoop announces when he meets Heidi — and we put up with him, too, because — improbable as it sounds — Bishop makes this cruelly honest, uncontrollably judgmental character warm and likable. Mosley’s role may be even more difficult. Peter hides himself behind a mask of wit and cynicism, and Wasserstein allows him to drop the mask for only one moment in one scene. Mosley handles it perfectly. The structure is episodic, with 11 scenes spanning Heidi’s senior year of high school in 1965 to 1989, when she’s a well-established art historian. Though interesting, it doesn’t generate much dramatic momentum, and the end seems more like a mere cessation than something climactic. But there are several hilarious set pieces, including Heidi’s speech to an alumni luncheon at her high school — “I’m envying women I don’t even like,” she says — and a 1970s encounter group that had me cringing in horrified recognition.
by MARK ARNEST