Photo courtesy of University Relations. Theatergoers on the weekend of Feb. Catherine found academic success where Don and Gwen had stagnated in order to start a family. Over the course of the play, the audience follows a small, informal class on feminism and feminine roles in pop culture taught by Catherine and attended solely by Gwen and Avery. The class not only serves to present the thematic ideas that make up the play, but also offers a backdrop for a quick and passionate affair between Catherine and Don.
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Ettman has increasingly honest discussions with her former roommate Gwen Tiffany Garfinkle and young student Avery Gianna Rapp in a summer seminar she teaches on feminism.
As a play about the tough choices women must make between career and family, Rapture, Blister, Burn deftly avoids any definitive point of view; it spends as much time discussing anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly as it does Betty Friedan.
Twenty-one-year old Avery provides much of the surviving humor with her modern viewpoint, a sort of realpolitik approach to sex, pornography, and dating that is interpretable as either wildly progressive or painfully regressive. The intellectual exercise is worthy of a seriously impassioned discussion on your drive home, or the next day or the next.
As a drama that might have been a dramatic comedy about adults trying to figure out how they want to handle children, career, and romance, the play is plenty engrossing. The plot itself is completely predictable to anyone who actually has some life experience, but the predictability is the point, as Catherine wrestles with the predicted outcome to try to break the mold. Don, Gwen, and Catherine are self-aware enough to describe their own flaws and how certainly they will never change or overcome them.
You can pick up on moments and lines that would have been funny if the stakes were kept higher, or more passion was brought to the proceedings.
A rare moment late in the play when she gets exasperated, finally, points to the energy level that would have converted this from a slightly comedic thought-drama into a raucous comedy of manners and mores. Perhaps director Mark Kamie, who generally does clean yet unremarkable work moving the actors around, did not push Ettman enough. Perhaps the design, restricted by budget but unimaginative and occasionally awkward, did not inspire bold acting choices.
Hamlett fares the best, perhaps because his character is set up as the man who enlivens Catherine. Hamlett reacted in character, jumping up and laughing, while Ettman simply stepped back and waited for the next line; Hamlett searched for an ad-lib for a few moments, but then gave up and joined Ettman to continue the scene. Missed opportunities for real painful, incisive, outrageous character-based insight like that abound. Directed by Mark Kamie.
Featuring Nancy Blum, Aly B. Producer: Aly B. Lighting Design: Peter Caress. Scenic Design: Dan Remmers. Sound Design: David Jung. Projection Design: Mark Kamie. Costume Design: Aly B. Stage Manager: David Jung. Reviewed by Brett Steven Abelman. Last year, he conceived and co-devised Balloon Plays at Capital Fringe his third self-production at the festival and he and the company continue to tour the show. Brett also acts, works backstage, plays drums, writes features and criticism for dctheatrescene.
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Rapture, Blister, Burn review
Ettman has increasingly honest discussions with her former roommate Gwen Tiffany Garfinkle and young student Avery Gianna Rapp in a summer seminar she teaches on feminism. As a play about the tough choices women must make between career and family, Rapture, Blister, Burn deftly avoids any definitive point of view; it spends as much time discussing anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly as it does Betty Friedan. Twenty-one-year old Avery provides much of the surviving humor with her modern viewpoint, a sort of realpolitik approach to sex, pornography, and dating that is interpretable as either wildly progressive or painfully regressive. The intellectual exercise is worthy of a seriously impassioned discussion on your drive home, or the next day or the next.
Review: Rapture, Blister, Burn met with lukewarm reception
As Jeff Croiter's lights go up on Alexander Dodge's weathered-shingles set, we find brainy, uncomfortably single, year-old author Catherine Amy Brenneman back in her small New England home town and visiting one-time boyfriend Don Harper Lee Tergesen , now a college dean, and irritable wife Gwen Kellie Overbey , who some would say stole Don from Catherine when they were all young adults in graduate school. It soon becomes apparent the three are feeling ambivalent about a planned evening out -- a situation that becomes even more edgy after Gwen fires Avery Virginia Kull -- one of Don's students who babysits the couple's three-year-old son Devon -- because she's arrived with a black eye, suggesting boyfriend abuse. Intimations that Catherine, dissatisfied with her academic life, still has eyes for chronically unambitious Don -- and he for her -- while Gwen itches to throw off the shackles of her domestic existence intensify when Gwen and the surprisingly intelligent Avery begin taking a summer class that Catherine, on sabbatical from a more prestigious-sounding academic slot, gives concerning the uncertain status of 21st-century women. Like the characters in television's long-running Designing Women series, the three generations sit around discussing the changing-or-not-changing plight of women over half a century and arguing the politics of Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly, with the usually savvy Alice and Avery, who are really the script's wise voices, respectively representing old and new female thought.
Rapture, Blister, Burn