by Shirley Lorraine
Santa Paula delivers post hiatus
Santa Paula Theatre Center has reopened its doors and raised the proverbial curtains at last with Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo. The production was originally planned for 2020 but was put on hold during the Covid crisis that shut performances down county-wide. The actors have hung in there and are now pleased to present this thought-provoking work.
The sizzling 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist script is filled with smart characters who make dumb (human) decisions, woven throughout a discourse and exploration of the meaning of feminism. The play questions how life might have turned out had alternate life routes been taken, how people cope differently with their choices, and the cost some of those choices extract.
Is the grass greener on the other side? Or is it all an illusion, a dream, an unfulfilled wish? Why do we question our choices in retrospect? Is it possible to be content with the choices we made? One resource cites the play as “an unflinching look at gender politics in the wake of 20th-century feminist ideals.” Heady stuff well presented.
Nimbly directed by Taylor Kasch, the cast features Rosie Gordon, Jessi May Stevenson, Erin Hollander, Susan Muhrer and Ron Feltner.
Jessi May Stevenson is Catherine, a woman who chose a career over a relationship. Coming home to care for her aging mother (Susan Muhrer), she reunites with Gwen (Rosie Gordon) and Don Harper (Ron Feltner), a friend and former boyfriend from college who married after she left for a life of travel and educational fulfillment. The reunion rekindles old feelings probably best kept buried, leading to upheavals all around.
The Harper’s babysitter, Avery (Erin Hollander) adds new dimension to the awkward triangle. Avery’s youthful, open, pragmatic, and accepting perspective adds food for thought, proving to be a much-needed balancing force.
The cast performs as a solid ensemble, presenting with clarity and determination. There is an intermission. Patrons can once again enjoy the “pub” and purchase tickets to perchance win an original piece of artwork by Kasch currently in use on the set.
On a more somber note: It was recently learned that William “Bill” Lucking, one of the founders of the Santa Paula Theatre Center, passed away in October at age 80. A gifted actor, Lucking had recurring roles on several television series. The community is in debt to him and his late partner, actor Dana Elcar, for creating such a warm and welcoming theater center for all to enjoy. Gentlemen, your gift to the community lives on and thrives.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required to attend the performance, per current health department mandates. Discretion is advised as the play features mature themes and strong language.
The run of Rapture, Blister, Burn continues with performances Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through November 28. Book online and choose your seats. www.santapaulatheatrecenter, email@example.com or (805) 525-4645. The Center is located at 125 S. 7th Street, downtown Santa Paula.