“Feminist can’t take a joke,” Louis CK once said to Jon Stewart when he was a guest on the Daily Show, the immediate shouts and boos from the audience accompanied by Louis CK’s smile demonstrating the “real” nature of the joke: the meta reaction to the joke being the value of its humor.
“Rapture Blister Burn” feels much like this. Jokes about feminism by feminists. And the script is nothing if not clever and self-aware right to the bitter end.
The set is creatively realized and the scene changes are fantastic: while a bit jarringly well-lit, the transitions are lightning fast and often punctuated by multimedia projection that engulfs the entirety of the stage, though the pieces chosen are simply films or youtube clips mentioned by name in the play.
This compensates for the plays problem of its awkward scene endings: the final lines of many of the scenes offer little resolution, with the scene ending abruptly, more in the style of television or film.
The characters in the play, unfortunately, are not people: they’re ideologies. Each actor is given a theoretical stand point, and their rhetoric is sent to battle. There is a disconnect between what the characters express and the humans they’re meant to represent.
That said, the rhetoric itself is dense and articulate, the tone of rigorous Academia throughout. The text is thick, smart and slow, taking its time with its ideas, letting you question what the “real point” ever is.
In large, through the many lens of feminism, the play seeks to discuss identity. Each character is inherently and violently insecure, which seems in-step with humans as isolated socially-hungry animals.
With that in mind, it is strange to see so many people being neurotic in every way possible and watch such young women have early mid-life crises.
Similarly, Sara Rosenthal portrays an annoyingly precocious teenager, Avery. Rosenthal waves her hands and gesticulates constantly, pointing at more things than an octopus in a blender. Avery is likely intended to be the thoughtful new generation of college women, but Rosenthal’s youthful sageness is mostly grating and cartoonish.
Jessica Osbourne plays Gwen, the almost anachronistic housewife. Osbourne portrays Gwen as fundamentally unlikable: constantly distraught, compulsive and manically hysteric. If the play is about people who are each individually unhappy, Gwen is far beyond desperate cries for help and a spot of Valium.
Gail Gillock Spidle represents Alice, the older, more conservative generation who didn’t so much grind gentiles in clubs as go on hayrides and never, ever got pregnant via sex. Alice represents also largely the Aux Dog’s audience-goers, blue hairs hooting and clapping every time the child Avery said “Fuck” or flipped people the double bird.
Sheridan Johnson plays Catherine, the empowered modern intellectual who evidently has found no empowered men who like that sort of thing. Johnson plays through the beats well enough as a functioning protagonist, not truly coming alive until Catherine’s emotional break near the play’s climax.
Ryan Montenery plays Don, the man at the center of it. Montenery’s performance is modest and simple, adding a noticeable naturalism to the flashy flamboyance going on around him.
“Rapture Blister Burn” attempts to bridge human drama with high-minded academia, and that may not work for all people. It looks for universality and application in heavy theory operatically, but may not be able to connect to everyone.
Rapture, Blister, Burn
by Gina Gionfriddo
Directed by Kristine Holtvedt
Aux Dog Theatre
3011 Monte Vista Blvd. NE
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.Sundays at 2 p.m.
Runs through March 9th
$14 General $5 Student Rush
For more information call 505-254-7716 or visit http://www.auxdog.com/