“Becca and Heidi” by Sharon Eberhardt, performed by Lindsay Anderson, is an adventure-filled monodrama about a woman whose life is being usurped by her alter-ego. A quiet, mousy young nurse named Becca, whose life is otherwise unremarkable, awakens from a series of blackouts to find that she has rescued a mother and baby from a flaming car wreck, saved a failing hip operation at work, freed animals from a lab experiment and brazenly given a “peak sexual experience” to her best friend’s boyfriend, a medical researcher. These deeds have all been the work of “Heidi,” who has somehow taken over her body and run amok with her life–like a kinder, gentler Jekyll-and-Hyde. Shocked by her new guts, resourcefulness and sassiness, Becca struggles to take back her life, or at least adjust to her new-found personality. In doing so, she learns that what makes a person good or bad is more complex than she had thought.
The fun is in the detailed struggle between the unassuming Becca and the funnier, smarter, sexier, heroic Heidi throughout this hour-long show. Lindsay Anderson, performing a solo turn as both Becca and Heidi, provides a roller-coaster narrative that is partly “Supergirl/Bizarro” and partly “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” It’s based on a dramatic situation that most women can relate to: there’s a “Heidi” inside all of them; the battle is whether to let her out or fight her back.
The piece is having its New York debut after being produced by The Shee Theatre in San Francisco and the Alleyway Theater in Buffalo, NY. It has also had staged readings at the Magic Theater, San Francisco, and at New York Theatre Workshop’s Usual Suspects. Reviewing the Shee Theatre production in 2004, Anna Mantazaris wrote in The San Francisco Gate, “Lindsay Anderson is stellar…as a woman grappling with her other side in this witty, modern-day take on the Jekyll-and-Hyde theme.” The Contra Costa Times (Pat Craig) called the play “rich in detail” and “slyly written,” praising Lindsay Anderson for her character work as two women and the boyfriend and for making the play “a captivating piece of theater that, at once, draws the audience into Becca’s life, then entertains it delightfully for just over an hour.” The San Francisco Guardian (Chloe Veltman) added, “At times gaping incredulously like a cartoon goldfish while at others looking as self-possessed as Lara Croft, performer Lindsay Anderson expertly milks the bathos at the heart of Eberhardt’s play…. The Shee Theatre Company’s production makes us believe that we’re witnessing two sides of one person, even as the person in question would have us believe we’re watching two.”
The New York production is directed by Blake Lawrence. Set design is by Erica Hemminger; lighting design is by Daniel Ordower and sound design is by Joanna Lynn Staub.
Playwright Sharon Eberhardt grew up in Buffalo, went to college in New York City and now resides in Berkeley, California. Her other plays include “Spacegrrls,” a satire in which a cosmetics company sponsors an all-women crew on a space station. It asks the question, can women work together or are they always fighting? She is now writing an historical drama set in 1930 about an actual Native American witchcraft trial in Buffalo. She currently works in the administration of The Marsh Theater in San Francisco.
“Becca and Heidi” came to her while she was temping in the office of an orthopedic surgeon, thus all the medical characters. She walked past posters for the musical “Jekyll and Hyde” and thought, if evil lurks in the hearts of men, what about women? She postulates that the Victorian era focused on repressing your evil impulses and trying to be a good person, but now we repress our good human qualities because it’s inconvenient or we don’t have time to express them. This notion is developed in the play, as well as the idea that “the good” in our good deeds is always relative, too. Even our shortcomings are part of our identities, and Becca ultimately doesn’t give up hers to become a superwoman.
Actor Lindsay Anderson won the Bay Area’s 2004 Dean Goodman Choice Award for Outstanding Solo Performance for her performance in “Becca and Heidi.” She trained at Arizona State University under Marshall Mason, where she played Cordelia in his production of “King Lear.” She moved to the Bay Area after graduation, where she appeared in a mix of classics and modern plays and became an artistic associate of foolsFury before recently moving to New York. Since landing here, she has appeared in various productions at Bowery Poetry Club and in “Knight of the Burning Pestle” at CSC.
Director Blake Lawrence is Associate Artistic Director of the Drama Desk-winning Keen Company, where she directed “Children of a Lesser God.” She was founding Artistic Director of The Themantics Group (NYC) and has directed over two dozen new works including “Cooper Savage,” a finalist in the Kennedy Center New American Plays Competition, and “Nooner,” which was selected by PBS and filmed as a pilot for a new series featuring the work of upcoming playwrights and directors. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab, teaches at AMDA and is a private audition and monologue coach. She is a graduate of the Northwestern University Theater Department.
Chashama provided residency support for the creation of “Becca and Heidi.”
Chashama is a NYC arts organization whose mission is to support artists of all genres. Chashama “adopts” vacant properties that are donated by their owners and converts them into theaters, galleries, studios, and window performance sites; chashama then regrants this space for free or at heavily subsidized rates. Since 1995, chashama has transformed more than 20 vacant properties and has given more than 5,000 artists access to space.
“Becca and Heidi” runs August 12-15, 19-22 (Sundays through Wednesdays) at Chashama, 217 East 42nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). All performances are at 8:00 pm. Show runs 75 minutes.
Tickets are $18 available at SMARTTIX (212) 868-4444, www.smarttix.com.