Rapture, Blister, Burn at the Hampstead Theatre
Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo is a rather thought-provoking play about two women, the decisions they made, and the consequences. With the teasing and sensational title suggesting lust, passion and demise, this play falls just short of expectation and delivers only a little more than an emotional drama.
Starring Oscar-nominated actress Emilia Fox (The Pianist, Silent Witness) and Emma Fielding (Cranford) as old college friends, Rapture, Blister, Burn unfolds in the backyard of character Gwen’s (Fielding) home. Meeting for the first time in over a decade, the two women and Gwen’s husband Don (Adam James) experience an awkward initial interchange, immediately highlighting the womens’ juxtaposed lifestyles.
Catherine (Fox) is a rock star academic who has chosen her career over starting a family with her then-boyfriend Don. Gwen, on the other hand has craved family life and snapped up Don when Catherine pursued a job in London. While at the time Catherine appeared content with her choices, the ailing health of her mother Alice (Polly Adams) has made her rethink her priorities.
Both Catherine and Gwen experience a serious case of the grass being greener on the other side, and set about organising a lifestyle swap. Recipe for disaster, emotional trauma and a passionate mess, surely?
Rapture, Blister, Burn has a storyline of morals. The young babysitting character Avery (Shannon Tarbet) serves as the deliverer of wise words to the older characters; an odd communication channel with hilarious results. Don plays the male lead with the typical indecision that the post-Third Wave Feminists struggle to maintain relations with. His final decision – a climactic choice – will no doubt surprise even the hardiest theatregoers.
Fox is fantastic and leads the cast in an entertaining dialogue saturated with ethical dilemmas and human shortcomings. A realistic approach to a subject likely to be close to many womens’ hearts, writer Gionfriddo dissects the contemporary female-gender politics with apparent ease. Director Peter DuBois (who has worked with Gionfriddo before) has co-ordinated Rapture, Blister, Burn with a brilliant, non-complicated set that allows the actors’ performances to shine bright.
To rid yourself of January blues, be sure to not miss this gem.
Rapture, Blister, Burn is at the Hampstead Theatre until 22nd February 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.