Theater Review: Rapture, Blister, Burn

Ann McCormick as Catherine, David Leach as Don, and Solange Marcotte as Avery. Photo by Davis Banta. 

The recipe for a perfect play: Start with four cups of feminism. Add in three generations of ideals, two women in competition for the love of one man and a teaspoon of tepid testosterone. Throw in a dash of senior sass and millennial convictions, and you’ve got “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” now being performed by Peter Gelblum’s Mountain Community Theater in Ben Lomond’s Park Hall.

From the very first wickedly awkward scene, the audience is taken on a journey of self-discovery and varying ethical situations via blissfully frank insight into the minds of four women. Gwen, played by Shireen Doyle, is the stay-at-home mom who gave up her career for love and family. Her husband Don, played by David Leach, careens through his life and female relationships with equal parts reverence and disdain. Don enters his mid-life crisis in Act 1, when he is reacquainted with his college sweetheart, Catherine, played by Ann McCormick. Catherine finds herself in the middle of several crises of her own as she navigates her successful academic career, a revived relationship and worry over her mother, Alice, played by Mindy Pedlar. And crashing through the barriers of society’s status quo is the irresistible Avery, played by Solange Marcotte.

Each character is delightful in breadth, depth and complexity, from Avery’s black-eyed introduction to Alice’s cheeky advice for her successful spinster of a daughter. Each scene is an examination into what women want—from themselves and each other. Each conversation during Catherine’s home-schooled college course on The History of Feminism offers a glimpse of the past in contrast to the principles of today. And each moment invites the audience to participate in an internal dialogue: If you could go back and change the direction of your life, would you?

Gina Gionfriddo’s “Rapture,” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2012 and is adeptly directed by MCT’s Peter Gelblum. After their opening night performance, some of the MCT cast reflected on the irony of the play’s messages being even more powerful today.

David Leach (Don): “I think it’s important to challenge—and I think this play does—what is acceptable in today’s society because there’s a lot that is clearly not acceptable, and we’re starting to take it as the norm, and that needs to change. The message for younger people is to really understand that just because you believe something doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean it’s true. Keep listening, keep learning and keep watching, and you’ll be amazed at what you don’t know.”

Mindy Pedlar (Alice): “You realize that (the script) is funny and really educational. These issues that we talk about in the show are fascinating, and so relevant.”

And Director Peter Gelblum was proud of their production. “It’s a play that makes you laugh and cry and really think—it’s the perfect play. And tonight (opening night) we got a standing ovation. What’s better than that?”

“Rapture, Blister, Burn” plays at Park Hall in Ben Lomond through June 9th. While not rated, this play contains strong language and adult situations.

(The title of the play comes from a lyric in the song “Use Once and Destroy” by Hole, Courtney Love’s band, which reached prominence between 1991 - 1998.)

‘Rapture, Blister, Burn’

Produced by: Mountain Community Theater

Directed by: Peter Gelblum

When: Through June 9

Tickets: general: $20; seniors/students: $17

Details: www.mctshows.org

Christina Wise is a writer, reporter, and community advocate who resides in Felton. She writes for the Press Banner on housing, education, arts and culture. Contact her at christina@pressbanner.com.

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