In “Rapture, Blister, Burn” by Gina Gionfriddo, directed by Kimberly Senior, feminism is taken to a whole new level.
Catherine (Jennifer Coombs) and Gwen (Karen Janes Woditsch) have been friends since college but chose opposite paths in life. Catherine built a career for herself as a successful author while Gwen built a home with a husband and children. Sparks fly and the age-old question is debated: Can women really have it all?
From the opening scene in the backyard of Don (Mark L. Montgomery) and Gwen, women are portrayed in a stereotypical way. They are either a sappy middle-aged woman, wanting more in life, or a cold successful woman who longs for a family. While touching on topics such as feminism, modern gender politics, and the role of sexes in the media, the women and even Don try to figure out what they want in life.
With the blunt and witty help of college student and dreamer Avery Willard (Cassidy Slaughter- Mason) and wise knowledge from Catherine’s aging mother Alice (Mary Ann Thebus), the group enters debates and modern and traditional ways are challenged.
The actors in this production play their roles convincingly, filling the typical roles their character is expected to be. Woditsch plays a depressed middle-aged mother with a heart longing for more. Woditsch portrays Gwen with spot on accuracy. As well as Montgomery, who stands as the poster man for an unhappy middle-aged man who succumbs to cheating to “feel alive again.”
But the real star of this production is Slaughter-Mason, who plays a quirky and blunt Avery Willard. When the going gets tough for Catherine and Gwen, Avery is always there to give some frank and sassy advice or comment. She is a rebellious woman who does not take shit from anyone (except maybe her cheating boyfriend). At the start of the play, Avery is a beaten and bruised girl but turns into an intelligent, powerful woman with the help of Catherine’s books and guidance.
Although the actors add depth and personality to their characters, the overall storyline lacks a purpose. While we watch, three generations of the feminist movement search for answers to their depression and unhappiness, only to end up just as confused and lost as they were in the beginning. A full circle of highs and lows leaves the audience searching for answers of their own.
After the lights fade and the audience stands from their seats, they walk out asking questions and groping for a happy ending, although the director’s plan may have been all along to leave the audience scratching their heads and wonder what they really just witnessed on stage.
Overall, this production will leave you wondering what women really do want in life or can they really have it all? This play is one for feminists, meninists, or neutrals all alike. Everyone can learn something from this thought-provoking production.