Saturday, February 21, 2015

Rapture, Blister, Burn is the Most Fun I've Had With Feminism

To those who have seen the Roundhouse Theater in Bethesda's current production of Rapture, Blister, Burn, it should be no surprise that writer Gina Gionfriddo has written TV episodes of House of Cards, Cold Case, and Law & Order.

This is one of the snappiest plays around, featuring exceptional comic timing from all five actors, who deliver the most fun I've ever had with feminism.

The play, which ends this weekend, offers a compellingly told crash course in feminism, mainly featuring Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly. Michelle Six's Catherine has returned from her feminist-studies book-speaking circuit to visit college pals Gwen (Beth Hylton) and Don (Tim Getman), whose marriage has grown unexciting.

At first, it seems Don, played by Getman with a mix of Homer Simpson and Bill Murray, will surely have an affair with babysitter Avery (Maggie Erwin), but that is not who he has an affair with at all. He gets tossed between his wife and Catherine like a rag doll. This is a nice touch, putting the lone man in the downtrodden and abused position previously and traditionally held by women.

Sticking around, Catherine offers a class that is only attended by Gwen and Avery. Because of the low turn-out, she decides to hold it at the home of her mother (Helen Hedman), who provides the martinis to juice up the hilarious inter-generational conversations relating horror movies, porn, internet dating, and much more to feminism.

By the end, the older generation is "hooking up" and the younger generation is longing for a balanced career and family life.

This is a brilliant play, and playwrights would be wise to follow Gionfriddo's style of mixing well-told historical background with deeply explored and empathic fictional characters.

***** out of ***** stars