The Alumnae Theatre Company opened its 102nd season with Wendy Wasserstein‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles. Over a span of 20 years, the titular character Heidi and her friends seek to achieve political, professional and personal fulfillment in a rapidly-changing world.
The Heidi Chronicles captures the experiences and anxieties of the baby boom generation, spanning through the 1960s to the 1980s. During this time, Heidi’s life plays out as pictures help depict historical and political events, from Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign to John Lennon’s assassination to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
As we see Heidi’s (Breanna Dillon) life evolve through high school dances, political awakenings, and finally becoming an Art History Professor, advocating for women in the arts. Alongside her, we get to know her high school besties, Susan (Joyce Chan-Baretta) and Peter (Eitan Shalmon). They are Heidi’s constants, for better or worse as she tries to figure out how to navigate a world in which people are often telling her what to think, how to act, or worse yet, not letting her speak her mind.
Some of the interactions between Heidi and Peter are some of my favourite moments of the play. Peter is the one person who can relate to Heidi’s inner struggles, as being a gay man during those times was very difficult. This is one of the most honest parts of the play.
There are other scenes which also stand out, like when Heidi is out with Susan and some of her friends from a feminist group. A good reminder of how women are stronger together.
Also worth mentioning here is Joan Jamieson‘s costume design and Elaine Freedman’s projection Design work. We see photographs of pivotal moments in time projected onto the stage. Through the cast’s wardrobe, we see Heidi and friends grow up over the decades. These may be overlooked by some, yet these are also essential to enhance a play.
For the record, there are aspects of the play that can be irritating to watch as it seems like not much has changed for women and LGBTQ+ people in our society. Nonetheless, there are redeeming reasons for remounting this play. It reminds us of the fact times have changed, but also reminds us of the work we have yet to do to reach equality and rid ourselves from sexism, homophobia, racism and so much more.
The Heidi Chronicles continues at Alumnae Theatre until October 5, 2019. There is a Talk Back with cast members after this Sunday’s Matinee performance. For more information and to get your advance tickets, visit alumnaetheatre.com.