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  

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