“We’re all concerned, intelligent, good women,” says the eponymous Heidi of The Heidi Chronicles. “It’s just that I feel stranded. And I thought the whole point was that we wouldn’t feel stranded.”

Or as another woman says in Isn’t It Romantic?, “No matter how lonely you get or how many birth announcements you receive, the trick is not to get frightened.”

Get the picture? A decade and a half ago, when Heidi first hit, an American journalist living in London told me she could never understand why these characters were always so unhappy—and then she went to interview the author. And she took one look at her and it explained the whole play in a way that casting Joan Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis as Heidi can’t. “She’s like a bag lady, a derelict,” my journalist friend told me. “You feel like saying,...


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