The most memorable scene in this play features a pithy discussion about how life has been transformed for American women.
Catherine is a prominent academic and a bestselling author who gets into a conversation with hip college student Avery about feminist pioneer Betty Friedan.
Catherine: What was revolutionary about Friedan was her assertion that all women do not fit one mold.
Avery: Right, but, I’m sorry, part of her argument is about how boring being a housewife is if you have a functioning brain.
Catherine: That is in there, but I think the salient point is choice.
Avery: You aren’t married and you don’t have children.
Score one for the perceptive girl – Professor Catherine does wish she’d taken the time to have a husband and a kid. But then we hear from Gwen, Catherine’s college friend, who married Don, a guy who dated Catherine back in the day. And Gwen blurts out something she’s been suppressing for a long time.
Gwen: I was a huge drunk when I hooked up with Don. Don was Katherine’s boyfriend, and I stole him.
Gwen: I know! Don is always disputing that I had an alcohol problem. But look what I did. You wished you had a family… I wish that I had finished school."
The soul-baring doesn’t stop there. Gwen describes how Don – an inspired prince of poetry in college, has turned into an aimless middle-aged academic administrator with a weakness for drink. The college student sizes up Don succinctly.
Avery: I got sent to Don because I partied too hard and got put on academic probation. He read me a William Blake poem about excess being the road to enlightenment.
Gwen: That’s exactly it!
This riotous conversation continues as four women weigh in regarding sex, marriage, and careers. It’s as if George Bernard Shaw, who wrote great scripts invoking social issues a century ago, had been reborn as a contemporary female dramatist.
Then the play morphs into physical comedy, with the most humorous seduction scene involving 40-somethings I’ve witnessed in years. This is a remarkable production -- beautifully cast, and smartly paced. And there are hilarious reversals during the second half, as the characters realize – much to their chagrin -- the grass isn’t really greener on the other side of the fence.
"Rapture, Blister, Burn" continues at Capital Stage in Sacramento through April 12th.
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