Monday, December 03, 2018

Relevant “Rapture, Blister, Burn” intrigues at convergence continuum 

The anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo and Time’s Up have brought new relevance to the public conversation about women’s issues surrounding the obstacles women encounter in their personal and professional lives.

Since theatre, like all art forms, represents the era from which it comes, exposing present day theories concerning women and such topics as feminism, marriage, pornography, male-female relations, non-marrying females, child-rearing, and media depiction of women, a script such as “Rapture, Blister, Burn” which is now on stage at convergence-continuum, should incite interest. 

The sold out opening night audience, and the discussions at intermission and after the production, seem to support that theory.  As is the fact that the script was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Gina Gionfriddo, the author of “Rapture,” is noted for crafting “sharp-witted dialogue, developing full-felt characters who fling themselves into dramatic extremities, and delving into disappointment and its aftershocks.  She is a spokesperson for feminism.”

Of her script “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” Gionfriddo states, “This is not the play I sat down to write. I wanted to write a play about Internet pornography. I didn't have a coherent position on the subject, but I felt the tug of an important question, and that's how I like to begin a play. What I did (and do) believe is that Internet porn is a massive generational game changer.” 

Pornography, though a topic dealt with in the play, is not the central issue.  Relationships, both male-female and female-female, goal setting and personal expectations are front-and-center.

The story line centers on Catherine, a New York college professor who makes regular television appearances and is the author of several top selling books.   During summer break, she comes back to her home town to care for her mother who has recently had heart problems.

She is hired by a local small college to teach a seminar on feminism in the 20th century.  The class of two, which includes her former college roommate who dropped out of school to marry Aaron, Catherine’s former boyfriend, and, Avery, an eager young lady. 

Catherine rekindles her relationship with Aaron, causing difficulty within his married, and eventually, confusion for her. 

Marriage issues, deep discussions, and awareness of gender politics in the wake of 20 th century feminist ideals unfold.

Con-con’s production, under the competent direction of Geoffrey Hoffman, nicely develops the author’s intent and purpose.

The acting is basically good, highlighted with strong performances by Laurel Hoffman, as Catherine, Madelyn Voltz as Avery, and Anne McEvoy as Alice, Catherine’s mother.

Clearly hearing some of the lines is sometimes difficult for those sitting on the extreme ends of the long thin stage arrangement.   A recorded speech, near the end of the production, is impossible to comprehend.

Capsule Judgment: “Rapture, Blister, Burn” is a very relevant play in this #MeToo age. The writing is good and the production clearly develops the author’s intent and purpose.   

“Rapture, Blister, Burn” runs through December 15, 2018, at 8 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at convergence-continuum’s artistic home, The Liminis, at 2438 Scranton Rd. in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.  For information and reservations call 216-687-0074 or go to