Can women really have it all? Is it truly possible to strike the perfect balance between career and family in the modern world? “Rapture, Blister, Burn” suggests a surprising — and perhaps unpopular — answer to those enduring questions: maybe not.
This Huntington Theatre presented play is all about the women. Catherine is a successful academic with a lonely personal life. Catherine’s college friend Gwen, on the opposite end of the spectrum, spent her post-grad time getting married and popping out a couple of kids. Both 40-something women are experiencing the female version of a mid-life crisis and regretting their life choices.
“This play is about how our expectations — things that seem good on paper — turn out differently in real life,” says Kate Shindle, who plays Catherine. “A lot of people say this is a play about feminism, but it’s not really. That just happens to be the context for telling this story.”
The four lead female characters — Catherine, Gwen, Catherine’s mother and Gwen’s 21-year-old babysitter — represent three generations and three varying perspectives on gender roles. Shindle empathizes with her own character most.
“She’s very similar to me, in many ways,” she says. “She thinks things through before feeling them. She could give you a long talk about how relationships between men and women play out and why, but she doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does.”
Despite all the discussion on feminist theory, Shindle says this show is a comedy, not an education.
“It sounds heavy, but it’s pretty funny,” she explains. Both Catherine and Gwen go to ludicrous lengths to try to undo their life decisions. “It all leads to some pretty ridiculous comedic situations.
Still, the play doesn't completely shy away from the topic — or from getting a little spicy. “This show is a little bit raunchy,” says Shindle. “There’s a lot of talk about pornography and whether it’s anti-feminism or empowering.”
If you go
"Rapture, Blister, Burn"
May 24 through June 22
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont St., Boston