Wendy Wasserstein’s seminal, eras-spanning play returns to Broadway and now stars “Mad Men”‘s Elisabeth Moss — who has lately been steadily proving herself as a serious screen actress — as “the smarty-pants art history major who rides the social roller coaster from the mid-’60s through the late 1980s,” per Deadline in a strong review that touts this version of the Tony-winning 1988 production.
Wasserstein’s feminist play—buoyantly humorous while asking serious existential questions—scooped up the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 and has since boasted the likes of Joan Allen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Lahti and Mary McDonnell. The New York Times adores this revamp’s “softly radiant” Elisabeth Moss, who carries the role as well as the best of them:
“Ms. Moss, a superb actor who possesses an unusual ability to project innocence and smarts at the same time, inherits a role played by many since Joan Allen originated it when the play had its premiere at Playwrights Horizons Off Broadway… Known for her demure but ambitious Peggy in ‘Mad Men,’ Ms. Moss puts her own distinctive stamp on the part. As Heidi Holland grows from a burgeoning feminist in the 1960s to a high-achieving but emotionally fragile art historian in the 1970s and ’80s, Ms. Moss is constantly questioning both her own choices and those of the circle of friends and lovers who surround her.”
The Hollywood Reporter, also in raptures over Moss: “A collage of generational experience that’s stronger on cumulative rewards than scene-to-scene conflict, the play limits access to Heidi’s inner life for much of its excessive 2-hour, 40 minute running time. And Moss’ opaque performance contributes to keep her at a distance. So it’s a testament to the ‘Mad Men’ star’s appeal that she’s ultimately so affecting in the role — even if the emotional rush is a long time coming. She’s the main reason to see director Pam MacKinnon’s mixed bag of a revival, though it nonetheless reaffirms the merits of Wasserstein’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning 1988 play, which remains smart and funny, tender and big-hearted.”
Variety also agrees she’s the reason to see the play: “Elisabeth Moss (waving goodbye to ‘Mad Men’) is effortlessly endearing — and wonderfully real — as the brainy, mixed-up heroine, and the thesps playing her male friends pass muster. But, under the direction of Pam MacKinnon, Heidi’s girlfriends are an embarrassment.”
From plum roles in Alex Ross Perry’s “Listen Up Philip” (as a narcissist writer’s disgraced ex-girlfriend) and “Queen of Earth” (in her biggest, maddest showcase yet) to Ben Wheatley’s upcoming “Free Fall,” “The One I Love” from last year and Jane Campion’s miniseries “Top of the Lake,” Moss has emerged a shrewd picker of screen parts. The last season of “Mad Men” is coming up in April, so “Heidi” looks to be your best fix for now.
Finally, here’s New York Magazine: “The rest of the cast, under Pam McKinnon’s uncharacteristically heavy direction, is still struggling to make sense of Wasserstein’s constantly self-canceling feints and curlicues. Moss, who has a stage star’s face, pulling light into it, comes closest: She understands and convincingly captures Heidi’s self-diagnosed combination of worthlessness and superiority. But what she pulls in she does not give back; it’s a very inward performance. How could it not be?”