All the Dangerous Things

The results of seeing ACT Theatre's Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo:

1. My abs hurt for three days from laughing too hard.

2. My mom and I are still repeating the best jokes, even to people who have no idea what we’re talking about.

3. I have a sudden desire to become a playwright.

4. Being an adult doesn’t seem so weird/scary/awful.

The show starts (with a fantastic set by Matthew Smucker) in a picturesque suburban backyard. Catherine has returned from her NYC career as an academic rock star to take care of her aging mother Alice, in the town where her ex-roommate Gwen and ex-boyfriend Don have married and settled down.  Gwen “gave up drinking and took up talking,” Don smokes pot and watches porn all day, Catherine is still in love with Don, and Avery the babysitter has a black eye.

Rapture, Blister, Burn is racy. It’s got all of the dangerous things: sex, drugs, and politics. It’s been rated NC-16 for language and content (there’s a strip-dance scene!) by me, my mother, and professional reviewers. If you’re okay with all of that AND okay with it around your parents, a big piece of the show is mommy-and-me relationships (hint: bonding opportunity!).

Rapture is a lot of things. Plotwise, it’s a grown-up version of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse (one of Aesop’s Fables). It’s also a smart, dark comedy and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. It's a deep dark fear of ending up alone and a hilarious, heartwarming cast of five who frequently sound like arguing aspects of Gionfriddo’s personality. What matters most is that, on the night that my mom and I went, the theater was packed and everyone laughed the whole way through. It is totally plausible when elderly Alice sweetly recommends that her daughter commit adultery, when Avery’s boyfriend is stolen by a Mormon, and when Gwen starts downing Shirley Temples like shots.

As a theater in-the-round, one of the best things about ACT's Allen Theatre is that there really are no bad seats. The music (chosen by Sound Designer Brendan Patrick Hogan) is an interesting mix of punk and rock, and the acting is phenomenal…mostly. The only negative of the whole show is that all of teenagedom is represented by Avery, whose voice alone is enough to make you want to slap her—think valley girl—and whose perspective is alternately obnoxious or oblivious. But it’s easy to understand why director Anita Montgomery chose that direction, and it doesn’t detract from the general lighthearted insanity. 9 out of 10 stars and the best night of my summer.


Rapture, Blister, Burn
ACT Theatre
Through August 11

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