Highly Recommended **** Part of our aging process is looking back at your past and wondering what could or would be different had you chosen a different path. This is what we might call “The life not lived”! In Pulitzer Prize finalist Gina Gionfriddo’s “Rapture, Burn, Blister”, now making its Chicago premiere at The Goodman Theatre, we watch as three generations of women discuss the choices they made (or are about to make), their expectations and of course, reality. The main characters in this funny look at what feminism has done to our women is smoothly directed by Kimberly Senior. This is a dynamic cast ,,with a story to tell that while a bit far-fetched, could be possible.
The two main characters, Catherine (a powerful performance by Jennifer Coombs), an author and professor on the topic of “feminism” and Gwen (deftly handled by Karen Janes Woditsch) a wife and mother of two are in many ways like sisters, as they shared their lives in their younger days. Gwen is unhappy with the choices she made and while she loves her family she envies the life that Catherine has.
Catherine has come home to help her mother, who has recently had a heart attack (Mary Ann Thebus is a delight in this role and tends to steal many a scene, without being obvious, just adorable). Catherine is prosperous, but alone and wonders if she has traveled the wrong path. The man who is, and was in their lives is Don (another solid performance by Mark L. Montgomery) who Catherine dated in college, but when she went off to Europe, he married Gwen.
The third generation in this piece is Avery (the adorable and very funny Cassidy Slaughter-Mason), a student who in fact has an unusual take on today’s male female relationship. Avery, who was Gwen and Don’s baby sitter at the start of the play, becomes a student in a special summer class that is conducted by Catherine on feminism and along with Gwen, these students open up about their choices and their lives. Along this path, one filled with many funny stories and anecdotes, Catherine and Gwen agree that trading places might work for them. Gwen would move to New York with the oldest son and go to school to finish her degree. Catherine would have her relationship with Don and along with her mother take care of the younger child. Can this work?
The action and interaction between these characters as played by this sterling cast is ideal and although the topic is one that can be considered serious, the comic touches in Gionfriddo’s script are wonderful. I don’t care what type of day you have, once you begin to get into “Rapture, Blister, Burn”, you will be taken away from the reality of life, at least for two hours and fifteen minutes. I was still laughing as I drove home through the falling snow and as I write this review, I still find myself chuckling. The only problem I had with this show is why either of the women wanted Don. But you can judge for yourself.
The technical part of the production adds a great deal and one thing we get to see at The Goodman, in the Albert Theater (the larger stage) is great sets (Jack Magaw) that slide in and out on wheels, lighting (Jennifer Schriever) that is dazzling, sound and original music(Richard Woodbury) and costumes (Emily Rebholz) that complete the picture that is painted by these artists.
“Rapture, Blister, Burn” will continue at The Goodman through February 22nd with performances as follows:
Tuesdays -February 10th at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays 2 and 7:30 p.m. (no afternoon on 2/19)
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 and 7:30 p.m. (except no eve on Feb. 15th and 22nd)
Tickets range from $28- $81 and are available at the box office, by phone at 312-443-3800 or online at www.GoodmanTheatre.org/Rapture
The Goodman is located at 170 N. Dearborn (at Randolph) and parking is available at the Government garage just west of Dearborn on Lake Street (not the lot directly across the street).
To see what others are saying about this production, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Rapture, Blister, Burn”