Throughout the month of February the Goodman Theatre has been producing a show that the Huffington Post calls, “piercingly sharp,” and The New York Times calls “intensely smart, and immensely funny.”
It’s clear “Rapture, Blister, Burn” has wowed heavyweights in the theatre community. But it did not wow this critic.
The show’s director, Kimberly Senior, was quoted as saying, “I’m not a feminist, I never was a feminist,” (which is an oxymoron) and that “[Feminism]... was not a practical application of how to be a woman in the world.” That is very clearly seen in the production. And it was a deep disappointment.
Playwright Gina Gionfriddo's “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” play theoretically unfolds as the playing out of the ideas of overexcited feminism get completely thrashed about in meaning, causing almost any sense of feminism in the show to burn out.
The basic plot began with promise. Catherine (Jennifer Coombs), is a successful graduate who has traveled internationally, been a sought after national TV expert and wrote two remarkable books discussing how pornography was demeaning to women as well as detrimental to society. Yet, she is harassed by her mother Alice (Mary Ann Thebus) about how she isn’t getting any younger and should consider settling down.
However promising it came across, Catherine wasn’t independent and content, and her character perpetuated the social ideal that women ultimately should find a man and cannot be content with spectacular accomplishments outside of being a couple.
Catherine’s counterpart Gwen (Karen Janes Woditsch), is a housewife married to a drunk, and incredibly lazy man, Don (Mark L. Montgomery). The majority of the production is these two women fawning over Don, and deciding who should be with him.
That is so repulsive to me. Was the show intended to be a strong feminist play, to spark conversation about empowerment and equality, challenging the societal norm to “need” a man? Then, at the very least, the women could have been fighting over a successful man, or someone that was motivated, or even, dare I say, sanitary.
Feminism is all about having equal opportunity for all people to succeed but allowing people the choice to live for themselves. Unfortunately this entire show seemed to be focused on women’s need for a relationship.
If the roles had been reversed and the cast had been almost-all males, but for the woman they were fighting over, I believe viewers would consider it absurd. Double standards are incredibly prevalent in this show.
Society doesn't force men to believe they need a woman, they praise male accomplishment. The show seemed driven by societal expectations that women constantly face and further eternalized gender roles.
I was disenchanted with “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” and believe it is anti-feminist. The play mentioned feminist heroines , but also acknowledged and considered anti-feminist publications to be viable. Also being directed by a woman who is supposedly not a feminist, the production seems driven to completely demolish any sense of feminism this show could have produced.
The show is just another ordinary show, that will not create conversations about feminism because it completely misinterpreted feminism. Feminism is the radical idea that women and men are equal. “Rapture, Blister, Burn” neither challenges inequality nor presents equality. It was overall very disappointing content.