Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rapture, Blister, Burn ****

With her new play now in previews at Playwrights Horizons, Gina Gionfriddo (Becky Shaw) once again demonstrates that she is one of the most promising American playwrights. In it, two fortyish women, formerly best friends in graduate school, meet again after a 12-year lapse during which their lives have taken very different directions. Catherine (Amy Brenneman), who has enjoyed a thriving career as an author, media critic and academic, has remained single. Gwen (Kellie Overbey) married Catherine's intended, Don (Lee Tergesen), while Catherine was away in London, dropped out of grad school and became a stay-at-home housewife and mother. Now, however, they both question their choices, wonder what they might have missed out on, and take steps to find out. Catherine's mother Alice (Beth Dixon) and college student/baby sitter Avery (Virginia Kull) observe and comment on the goings-on. While the plot is engaging, the main attraction is the intelligence, substance and wit of the dialog. Conversations about generational attitudes toward feminism, the views of Phyllis Schlafly, and the cultural significance of horror films and internet porn are skillfully woven into the play without a trace of didacticism. The cast is uniformly excellent. Alexander Dodge's scenic design is attractive and functional. Mimi O'Donnell's costumes are spot-on. Peter DuBois's direction serves the play well. Don't be put off by the strange title, which comes from a Courtney Love lyric of dubious signifance to the play. This is one of the finest plays I have seen this year. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes including intermission. 

No comments: