By Kenneth Jones
12 Jun 2012
|Photo by Carol Rosegg|
Amy Brenneman, Beth Dixon, Virginia Kull, Kellie Overbey and Lee Tergesen star in the comedy-drama about the fallout of choices made by two women of the generation that followed the modern women's movement.
Peter DuBois (Becky Shaw, Sons of the Prophet, Measure for Pleasure, Jack Goes Boating and artistic director of Huntington Theatre Company) directs the production, to run to June 24 at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater at 416 W. 42nd Street. In its extended discussions about women's roles (including references to conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment), the play reads as an homage to the work of late playwright Wendy Wasserstein, particularly The Heidi Chronicles. Gionfriddo wrote in a recent New York Times column, "I did not set out to rewrite Heidi or to talk back to Heidi, but no one is ever going to believe that. Both plays depict a female academic just over 40 with a successful career as an author. Both women, Wasserstein's Heidi and my Cathy, regard their personal lives as lacking (neither has a romantic partner or children) and find themselves re-examining the feminist movement to sort out how they could have come so far and still wound up unsatisfied."
Here's how PH characterizes the play: "After grad school, Catherine (Brenneman) and Gwen (Overbey) chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rockstar academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later, unfulfilled in polar opposite ways, each woman covets the other's life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs — the prize being Gwen's husband (Tergesen). With searing insight and trademark wit, Gina Gionfriddo's comedy is an unflinching look at gender politics in the wake of 20th-century feminist ideals."
Rapture, Blister, Burn was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons with funds from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.
The production features scenic design by Alexander Dodge, costume design by Mimi O'Donnell, lighting design by Jeff Croiter and sound design by M.L. Dogg. Production stage manager is Lisa Chernoff.