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Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Review of RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN at ACT in Seattle - With Video Highlights

Kirsten Potter, Jeffrey Frace, Kathryn van Meter,
Photo: John Cornicello - See more at:

People say hindsight is 20/20, but three old friends in a new play called Rapture,Blister, Burn, still need glasses to re-examine their lives when reunited, years after college. Running at ACT—A Contemporary Theatre until August 11, it offers Seattle audiences a hilarious and piercing look at one of life’s greatest truths: choices have consequences. One of those consequences can be regret. That realization hits like a bomb in the lives of these characters and shakes up theatergoers with as much reality as laughter.
Director Anita Montgomery has made the most of Gina Gionfriddo’s brilliant script and this dynamite cast of five extraordinarily talented actors. The weaving together of plot and personality creates a captivating performance. After graduating from college, sexy, single Catherine Croll (Kirsten Potter) has become a nationally known feminist writer and academic. Her former friend, Gwen Harper (Kathryn Van Meter), chose the domestic life as the stay-at-home mother of two sons, boys the audience hears about but never meets.

Kathryn van Meter, Kirsten Potter, Mariel Neto, Priscilla Lauris Photo: John Cornicello - See more at:
Each woman dwells on what she’s missed because of her choice. Their lifestyle differences alone could create plenty of potential for conflict on its own, but Gwen is now married to Catherine’s old college boyfriend, Don Harper (Jeffrey Fracé), after causing the couple’s breakup. This reunion makes her nervous. Her husband has his own set of second thoughts. And Catherine’s return reminds both of them just how far removed he’s become from the intellectual his former girlfriend has always imagined him to be. He is actually an unambitious man who drinks too much (while Gwen has quit drinking) and whose only sex life is whatever thrill he gets from pornography. Gwen sees all the shortcomings of the man she once stole from Catherine, while Catherine sees only her romanticized memory of him, at least in the beginning.

Jeffrey Frace, Kirsten Potter
Photo: John Cornicello - See more at:
In a play labeled a “comedy,” this situation might not sound all that funny. But real life is always the best source of humor, and there is probably no scenario more real than watching two women have second thoughts about their choices. In spite of feminism’s long history in America, it never has succeeded in fulfilling the dream of having it all, or having it both ways, when it comes to balancing career and family. That message is delivered here with sizzling wit and keen observation. In addition to dealing with the women’s movement, the play examines issues like pornography, alcoholism, the balance of power in relationships, and the views and experiences of different generations of women. In addition to the plays theme of the grass always looking greener on the other side of the fence, it also reminds us how entrapping expectations can be, and how we tend not to see or accept people for who they really are.
Kathryn van Meter, Kirsten Potter, Mariel Neto, Priscilla Lauris
Photo: John Cornicello - See more at:

The older generation is represented by Catherine’s mother, Alice Croll (Priscilla Lauris) who probably draws more laughs than anyone with her absolutely charming and funny portrayal of an adoring, doting, cheerful, non-interfering mother who sees only the best in everyone and takes both a heart attack and women’s issues in stride. She politely dismisses her daughters anxious fussing over her health—Catherine’s excuse for coming home—and is always ready to be the perfect hostess, including mixing drinks. It becomes clear that, although Catherine is supposedly there to help her mother, it is the daughter who is the perpetually needy one.

Jeffrey Frace and Kirsten Potter Photo: Chris Bennion - See more at:
On the opposite end of the age scale is current college student Avery Willard (Mariel Neto). She brings her own no-holds-barred commentary on the love triangle situation, along with the perspective of modern youth. But behind her liberal attitude toward sex, she shows a surprising mix vulnerability, maturity, and common sense, making this character complex and interesting.
I love the Allen Theatre at ACT, and Scenic Designer Matthew Smucker put together the perfect setting for non-stop domestic drama in this theater-in-the-round. Since every seat is a good seat, they’ll all go fast. I recommend you reserve yours now, for an evening of thought-provoking laughter and some of the best acting you’ll ever see. You will be captivated and entertained throughout and treated to a surprise ending. Congratulations to the entire cast for an outstanding performance. Rapture, Blister, Burn is ACT at its finest.

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