RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN presented by Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati through Oct. 27. Read the show description.
It is easy to understand why the script for Gina Gionfriddo’s RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN was nominated as a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Director D. Lynn Meyers successfully leads her five-person ensemble through this laugh-out-loud production.
At the center of the show is Catherine Croll. Her mother’s health scare sends successful academic Catherine back to her hometown and causes her to re-examine her life decisions. A drunk-dialing incident leads to a re-connection with her now-married college-mates, (ex-roommate Gwen and ex-love Don), causing all three to question the road not taken. Added to the mix are Catherine’s mother, Alice, and college student Avery who offer the perspective of different generations.
A college course on the history of feminism, led by Catherine, brings the four ladies together in several scenes. These class discussions offer some great character insights amid the laughs, and lead Catherine, Gwen and Avery to some life-changing decisions and their consequences.
The script is smart, funny and easily relate-able with a side of good-natured guy bashing. Many times I found myself laughing in commiseration with the characters onstage. And don’t be too worried about the feminism class in the show. The topics discussed (including social media and woman’s roles in slasher movies) are interesting, balanced and entertaining.
Jan Joplin is spot on as over-reactive, stay-at-home mom Gwen. I enjoyed the differences in the character when Don wasn’t around to nag over.
Corrine Mohlenhoff’s embodies academic Catherine, the model of professionalism in her career, but un-trusting of herself in matters of the heart.
Charlie Clark is fun as beaten-down, bread-winner Don Harper.
Hannah Sawicki is a treat as Avery Willard. Her comic timing is impeccable and she gives Avery a quirkiness that is fun and endearing. When a gem or three of wisdom does pops out of her mouth, it’s totally believable for the character.
I also enjoyed Patricia Linhart’s portrayal of Catherine’s mother. Alice’s calm demeanor and balanced perspective on life worked well as a counterpoint to the other ladies.
I found the relationships and interactions among the characters to be real and believable. I would have like to seen more of a change in the dynamic between Catherine and Don when Gwen wasn’t around. Maybe see a bit more of that “college Don” charm during their early scenes.
As usual, another solid set and lighting design by Brian c. Mehring. I especially liked the incorporation of that generic slated fencing, so common in suburbia, into the set. “The grass is always greener on the other side…” indeed.
Overall ETC succeeds with this smart and funny regional premiere. A great show for a girls night out or a date night, as long as your guy doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Complete list of show times for RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN.
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