Westporters reading the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times arts section saw a rave review of 1999 Staples graduate — and former Staples Player — Leslye Headland’s “Bachelorette.”
Charles Isherwood called the “scarifying tale of mean-girl malice and generational malaise” — fueled by drugs, alcohol and sex — a “vivid and entertaining play, as witheringly funny as it is bitterly sad.”
The main characters — 3 young women and the 2 young men they pick up — are “observed with equal parts savagery and sympathy,” Isherwood says. “Written with stiletto-sharp wit by Ms. Headland, they are almost embarrassingly compelling.”
Not everyone agrees. One Times reader savaged the reviewer’s review:
So the characters are wounded, selfish bitches. So what? Who cares?
I was just plain offended by this misogynistic piece of claptrap. That any woman could hate women so much is just plain scary.
A Times arts section story earlier this month focused on Headland’s career. Writer Celia McGee said:
The plays of Ms. Headland and contemporaries like Annie Baker and Elizabeth Meriwether offer an up-to-the-nanosecond portrayal of a generation yet to hit 30 and leery of growing up. But Ms. Headland also has a soft spot for another influence: “I think of my plays a bit in the vein of Charles Schulz and Peanuts,” she said, “which, if you read them closely, were super-existential.”
Yet there is nothing cartoonish about Ms. Headland’s creations, said Wes Whitehead, artistic director of the three-year-old IAMA Theater Company in Los Angeles, where Ms. Headland is the artist in residence. “She likes to explore difficult topics very honestly,” he said. “The circumstances may be heightened, but every time you’re being left with an emotional connection to what’s happening onstage, and it’s devastating.”
“Bachelorette” director Trip Cullman added:
She has this very dark, painful sense of humor, which like all good humor comes from a place of truth. It’s shockingly naked in showing how recklessness in people’s 20s can turn into desperation in their 30s, and seeming friendship is really co-dependence.
After Staples, Headland studied directing and acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She graduated in 2003, then spent 4 years in what — according to the Times — “she considers her own addictive relationship, staying too long in an assistant’s job at a New York entertainment company rather than pursuing playwriting.”
Her boss was Harvey Weinstein — the Miramax Films founder, and (coincidentally) a Westporter.
Headland is now in LA, writing for the upcoming FX series “Terriers.” She’ll soon turn 30 — joining a new age group, ripe for her stiletto-sharp dissection.