The new Broadway revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s 1988 Pulitzer-winning comedic drama “The Heidi Chronicles,” which stars Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men,” marks the first Broadway revival of any of Wasserstein’s plays since her sudden death in 2006 at age 55.
Spanning the mid-1960s to the late-1980s, Heidi evolves from a socially awkward high school student into an articulate art historian who, if not a militant feminist, is very conscious of how women are treated.
As her friends change and generally become more materialistic, Heidi wonders about what she really wants and needs. In the final scene, she is seen taking care of her newly adopted child, still single.
The men in her life include a gay pediatrician (Bryce Pinkham) who is her best friend and a smug attorney and journalist (Jason Biggs) who was once her on-and-off boyfriend.
The production is smooth but rather inert and slow, and it is unclear – at least to me – whether the fault lies in Pam MacKinnon’s direction or the text itself, which is comprised of short scenes full of historical references that generally lack conflict. Heidi, for the most part, is a passive observer, and the other female characters are one-dimensional. And though not exactly “dated,” the play has understandably lost some of its edge over time.
Moss captures Heidi’s tender qualities while giving off a radiating glow. Viewers of “Mad Men” will no doubt notice the similarities between Heidi and Peggy Olsen. Pinkham, formerly the co-star of the musical “Gentlemen’s Guide,” injects a great of liveliness and spontaneity. Biggs, with a relaxed air, conveys his character’s unapologetic self-absorption.
I do hope that Wasserstein’s other plays – including “Uncommon Women and Others,” “An American Daughter” and “The Sisters Rosensweig” – will be revived in the near future.
If you go: “The Heidi Chronicles” plays through Aug. 9 at the Music Box Theatre. 239 W. 45th St., telecharge.com.