April 27, 2015

Rapture, Blister, Burn

Can women really “have it all”? Do they want to? The Theatre on the Square’s production of Rapture, Blister, Burn explores this topic with a stark honesty and balance that’s rare with such a hot button issue. Two former grad school roommates reconnect in their 40s. Catherine is a literary success who lives in New York and is single. Gwen is married (to Catherine’s former boyfriend) and raising kids in a small town. Both women can’t help but feel curious about how their lives might have unfolded if they’d made different decisions. 
Shows like this often have a hard time not infuriating one side or the other of the issue. All women seem to be both defensive and opinionated about the “right way” to live your life. Somehow this play, written by Gina Gianfriddo, manages to avoid all of those pitfalls. Instead of attacking either side it opens the discussion, guiding the audience to consider both sides equally. Using a college course as the vehicle to drive the exploration of the issue, the characters are able to discuss not only their own choices, but the way the feminist movement has morphed over decades. We are able to hear from three very different generations of women and their conversation hums with energy.

There’s also a love triangle, but it feels secondary to the women’s existential debate. Rob Johansen’s direction gives them room to explore the subject matter without making the dialogue seem rushed. The cast works incredibly well together, and their chemistry as both friends and rivals is convincing from the first scene. Carrie Ann Schlatter was particularly amazing in her role of Catherine. She plays Cathy as smart and vulnerable. She has so much knowledge on the issue, but no answers when it comes to her own life. She’s at a difficult crossroads and she’s filled with doubt about the choices she’s made, but she’s still asking the important questions. 
Each of the women becomes more layered with every scene. The audience can jump to conclusions about the dotting senior citizen’s naiveté, the shrewish wife’s condescension towards her husband or the presumption of a young woman with all the opinions and none of the experience. But then in the very next scene we’ll see a new side to their personality that brings their actions into tighter focus. We see their motivations, regrets, and the “personal mythologies” that they tell themselves.  

It’s easy to glorify the things we don’t have and the lives we don’t lead. Seeing the reality of those lives is often not at all what we expect. In the end, no matter what age they are or choices they’ve made, each woman is just trying to figure things out and there’s a beauty in that.


Don't Miss the Show 
Performances: The play runs until May 2 on the Theatre on the Square main stage, 627 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis. Shows begin at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Tickets: Tickets are $20 Reserved or $15 for Seniors/Students with ID.  Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 317-207-0171 or online at tots.org.

“Becoming Dr. Ruth” opens May 8th at Theatre on the Square.

Photos Courtesy of the Theatre on the Square  

April 21, 2015

The Speckled Band

A mysterious murder presented in the round is the latest offering from the EclecticPond Theatre Company. Sherlock Holmes is back in The Speckled Band in Irvington. With a limited set and six-person cast, the show builds suspense quickly with a locked-room murder and a dangerous villain.

Kelly Gualdoni is particularly good as Enid Stonor, a strong young woman willing to stand her ground even after her twin sister is murdered. She plays Enid as intelligent even in the midst of her fear. Her menacing uncle, played by Dan Flahive, controls her every move and most days he can barely keep his temper in check.

Bradford Reilly plays the infamous Sherlock Holmes. He struggled with his lines at times, but he’s well suited for the role. He embraced the presumptive air of the brilliant detective and never slowed down to let his well-meaning sidekick catch up with his thought process. Ryan Maloney makes a very young Dr. Watson, but was a calm balance to Holmes’ impatience.

Occasionally theatre companies present Sherlock and forget a key ingredient, a sense of humor. EclecticPond’s production does an excellent job combining suspense and humor in the show. The cast embraces the slapstick elements as a revolving door of characters make their way through each scene. Matt Anderson and Pat Mullen took on half a dozen roles throughout the show. By tossing on a wig or turban, the two actors fleshed out the supporting cast all by themselves.

In addition to the final performances of The Speckled Band, EclecticPond is hosting a birthday celebration for the Bard on Saturday, April 25. They will be announcing their new season at the party. Still to come this year is Anton Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard” in June.

Don’t miss the show
Performances run until April 25. Tickets are $19. Performances are held at the Irvington United Methodist Church, 30 North Audubon Road, Indianapolis, IN 46219. For more information, a complete schedule of the shows or to purchase tickets, visit ETC’s site here

Photos Courtesy of the EclecticPond Theatre Company