Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Life at the Theater: The Heidi Chronicles

I first saw The Heidi Chronicles, written by Wendy Wasserstein, in New York at the Plymouth Theater in 1989. It starred the amazing Joan Allen. It co-starred Broadway fixtures Boyd Gaines and Peter Friedman. It knocked me off my feet. It perfectly encapsulated the past two decades--from 1970-1988.

Funny thing though, I saw it again in 1994, just five years later, at a local theater. Already it seemed dated, naive. Cliched.

And then my book group read it as a play two years ago in 2009. It seemed as anachronistic as any dusty nineteenth century play. It was also depressing to think that societal changes of two decades past were either taken for granted by a new generation of discarded altogether.

I guess plays or novels or movies that take on "issues" are likely to suffer from this. Oleana, by Mamet is another play that seems too shrill today.

Anyone else notice this?


Steve Oerkfitz said...

I remember being dragged to the Fisher Theatre to see this in the early 90's and hated it. Just seemed like an extended sitcom and a not very good one at that.

Erik Donald France said...

That's sad. I haven't seen it. But I don't mind seeing or reading things that feel dated, as long as some kind of historical context can be pieced together or known ahead of time.

pierre l said...

Many apologies for the off-topic comment.
It was very exciting to meet the lovely Megan at a book club event in Wimbledon tonight. I had been waiting for this opportunity for a long time.

Ron Scheer said...

I think you have to wait a few decades for a topical play to become good theatre again. Like waiting 50 years to revive HAIR. It takes excellent direction, too, and a seasoned cast. Not every play is so fortunate. Ever see Cherry Jones in THE HEIRESS? That's kind of what I mean.

Deb said...

I saw "Uncommon Women and Others" in either the very late 1970s or very early 1980s. Many years later, I saw a TV adaptation (from the same time period, I believe--I think Meryl Streep was in it) and it seemed terribly dated.

I remember reading Wendy Wassersteins articles about having a baby late in life (I think she was about 48 when her daughter was born). Then, just a few years later, Wasserstein died. I wonder who is raising her little girl.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Just back from a trip, Pierre, with no internet so just reading this. I am so glad you met Megan and hope you told her what a good friend you have been to me over these years.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have noticed that. We saw HEIDI when it first opened too but have had no contact with it since, so I would not be surprised it has dated. Now, UNCOMMON WOMEN was a favorite of mine and because of the era it was set in I will always enjoy it, no matter how dated it is. And how can you go wrong with Swoosie Kurtz?

Wasserstein's daughter was 6 when she died, and is nearly 12 now. I don't know who is raising her.

Her death was a huge loss.

Jeff M.