VegS.O.U.P.’s latest production ‘chronicles’ a young woman’s search for identity

"The Heidi Chronicles," presented by VegS.O.U.P., is a moving and genuine look at what happens to the foot soldiers of a revolution when their movement actually takes hold.

The play, written by Wendy Wasserstein and directed by senior Dana Giglia, explores the difficulties of navigating the mountaintops and pitfalls of the feminist period of the '70s and '80s through the eyes of fictional art historian Heidi Holland.

Heidi sets the stage for what's to come with a touching and relatable prologue. She concludes by describing the feeling you get at a high school dance where, "You sort of want to dance, and you sort of want to go home, and you sort of don't know what you want. So you hang around, a fading rose in an exquisitely detailed dress, waiting to see what might happen."

They play chronicles Heidi's life as she continues to suffer indecision and insecurity in her feelings towards her relationships, her path in life and her identity as a woman.

Though she initially gains validation through the feminist movement, she finds herself feeling increasingly isolated growing up in "the empty generation" of door-opening women. Heidi struggles, to no avail, to balance both a relationship and her fierce independence.

"Do you ever feel like what makes you a person keeps you from being a person?" she asks her friend Susan. Susan reveals that she, in fact, doesn't even care about her own identity, making Heidi feel even more alone in her confusion.

"I feel stranded, and I thought the whole point of this was that we wouldn't feel stranded," Heidi says in one of her lectures.

Some of Wasserstein's dialogue seems a little too witty and the tension in certain scenes leans toward the melodramatic. But even with its setbacks, the production's earnest performances make the audience feel included in the personal struggles of Heidi and her disillusioned friends.

Sophomore Emily Cirincione carries the part of Heidi beautifully, appearing almost inseparable from her character at times. Even in moments of inaction, Cirincione's subtle facial expressions are just as telling as her dialogue.

One of the play's brightest highlights, despite the title's nod to the protagonist, is the exploration of the other complex characters that fill Heidi's life.

Graduate student Sean Miller brings manic charm to the role of Heidi's best friend Peter, and junior Brandon DeFilippis radiates fast-talking charisma as Heidi's on-and-off love interest Scoop. Both of them ride almost as many emotional roller coasters as Heidi, and the actors play these shifts excellently.

Even smaller roles like those of sophomore Amelia Millar, who plays Scoop's bubbly but downtrodden wife Lisa as well as abused teenager Becky, stood out as unusually full and emotional. Sophomore Kate Royal is riveting in her performance as ultra-feminist and lesbian Fran, and sophomore Melyssa Hall's performance as housewife Jill and broadcasting assistant Denise was delightfully high in energy.

Scene transitions were bogged down by many small set pieces, all of which had to be shifted during each blackout. The play's pacing could have benefited from a simpler set that didn't demand so much from the crew.

The costumes avoid the caricatures of each time period, and instead take a more subtle approach, shifting from scene to scene without resorting to disco suits and shoulder pads. Heidi is dressed in black and gray until the end of the play, and the introduction of color into her outfits seems to echo her finding a new outlook on life.

"The Heidi Chronicles" is a remarkably human portrait of a generation of women in flux. Performances are Thursday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 11 at 8 and 11 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the Brodie Box Office.