The Heidi Chronicles, although a long haul at two and a half hours, still shines thanks to a poignant script and stellar cast.
The Heidi Chronicles (directed by Pam McKinnon) depicts the life of art historian Heidi Holland (Elizabeth Moss), starting at high school in the 1960’s and spanning the next two decades. While experiencing the changes of Vietnam, the growing feminist movement, and the chronic narcissism of the 1980’s, Heidi struggles with the question “Can women really have it all?” Along the way, she relies on her longtime friend Susan (Ali Ahn), a charming gay pediatrician Peter (Bryce Pinkham), and her womanizing onetime lover Scoop (Jason Biggs).
Moss shines as Heidi, giving every line all she’s got, and bringing the audience to laughter one moment and tears the next. She perfectly depicts the complexity and struggles Heidi experiences throughout her life. As Scoop, Biggs delivers what may well be his best work. His attitude as the self-important, usually loathsome, and often right Scoop resonates through the performance, helping the audience understand exactly why Heidi bothers to keep someone so self-serving in her life. Pinkham brings both charm and raw emotion to the stage as Peter, the only person who truly challenges Heidi outright about her escapist attitude. Ahn’s performance as Sarah is on-point, depicting a wonderfully lighthearted character that often captures the spirit of each time period perfectly. Also featured in the cast were Tracee Chimo, Leighton Bryan, Elsie Kibler, and Andy Truschinski, each giving strong performances which furthered the delight of The Heidi Chronicles even further.
It’s worth noting that, although The Heidi Chronicles (written by Wendy Wasserstein) first premiered in 1988, it retains its freshness and vitality, still poignant for today’s audiences. It not only forces us to reflect on the role of women in the decades portrayed, but leaves audiences with an opportunity to view the ways society has both changed and stayed the same with regard to the way women are viewed and view themselves. It also conveys a wonderfully relevant portrayal of the evolution of queerness and how being queer is viewed in our society.
Technically, Heidi is a delight to watch, as John Lee Beatty (Scenic Design) makes fantastic use of the space with a set that should be listed as a character in and of itself. Jessica Pabst (Costume Design) presents an array of costumes which brilliantly transport us to each of the depicted time periods.Overall, The Heidi Chronicles is a worthwhile and immensely enjoyable drama with both deeply poignant moments and sharp, witty jokes, delivered all but perfectly by a truly exceptional cast.
Review By: Jacob R. Hines
Photos By: Sara Krulwich