BWW Reviews: RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN has a Lukewarm Opening
Rapture, Blister, Burn tells an interesting story of 4 women from multiple generations all engrossed in feminist theory. Most of the dialogue in this play involves theories and is very intellectual but not so much that it's hard to follow. One of the characters is a professor so we get introduced to each theory while the others are learning it in class. That is such a smart way to slowly guide the audience down this theoretical/hyper-intellectual conversation so that when it is again referenced later in the story the foundation is already made. Gina Gionfriddo's script is almost like taking a college course in feminist theory and I loved learning.
Now, this particular production had some issues, the first (and biggest) was the only male character, Charlie Clark as Don Harper. Both of the two main women supposedly want him but there isn't one redeeming quality about him. This could be the way he is written or acted but it is unbelievable that two smart women would waste time fighting for him. And to make matters worse he had no chemistry with either of the female leads. The relationships between him and the women felt forced which was the biggest downfall of the play because those two relationships are the core of the show.
Another issue was the young female role. Hannah Sawicki as Avery Willard did a very good job with what she had to work with. She had almost all of the funny dialogue and delivered it well. However the issue with her performance was either the direction she was given or the way she interrupted the character. Because this character was the youngest in the cast and the only cast member in her particular age group, she acted the way older adults think 21 year olds act. She paused between most words and sentences and her movements represented someone younger than 21 years old.
The two female leads, Jen Joplin as Gwen Harper and Corinne Mohlenhoff as Catherine Croll, were both pretty good. Joplin was the perfect mix between being annoying and sympathetic. Her big emotional moment in the show was the best acting in the entire production and hit perfect on all levels. Mohlenhoff was great as the stoic, intellectual type but I would have liked her to show more emotion. I get that her character isn't suppose to show that many emotions but there were so many times where she should have emoted something and it would have helped the production because it felt like something was missing. It's hard to explain but this production could have been really good however it lacked emotion or depth or just something.
Overall, this play was slightly too long but was a pretty good production. The set (as always at the Ensemble Theater) was gorgeous and the lighting was perfect. Although, the music between scenes was slightly loud (I do predict this is probably fixed by now) and startled the audience almost every time it came on. I would suggest seeing it just for the script alone and the pretty good performances but don't expect too much out of it.
Rapture, Blister, Burn is running through October 27 at the Ensemble Theatre and is directed by D. Lynn Meyers.
Photo Credit: Ryan Kurtz