A basis for debate

Rapture, Blister, Burn

“Let’s talk about women’s issues.”

“Let’s talk about women’s issues.”

Photo by Charr Crail

Rapture, Blister, Burn; 7 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; $22-$38. Capital Stage, 2215 J Street; (916) 995-5464; www.capstage.org. Through April 12.

Rated 5.0

Ah, women’s choices, always up for discussion and debate. Women, men and society are forever and exhaustively examining and passing judgment on which paths and options women should take along their journeys.

In playwright Gina Gionfriddo’s Rapture, Blister, Burn, the subject matter of life choices is offered up in a thought-provoking and hilarious dark comedy that includes three generations’ takes on women’s issues. Capital Stage’s Shannon Mahoney, in her directorial debut, expertly guides her gifted cast through this Pulitzer-Prize-finalist play that includes fascinating examinations of gender politics issues as well as drink-infused conversations and escapades.

Catherine (Megan Pearl Smith) and Gwen (Kelley Ogden) are college roommates who chose polar-opposite roads. Career-oriented Catherine’s world is her oyster; she’s a much-respected academic who travels the globe. Gwen’s world is a bit smaller. As a stay-at-home mother, her world is her husband and her two children.

The one person who binds the two women together is Don (Sam Misner), ex-lover of Catherine and now husband of Gwen. Decades from college, all three are going through mid-life wonder-if-I-should-have-made-different-choices crises. And so they find a way to live each other’s choices. Though the plot twist isn’t very realistic, it allows the story to play out on the what-if fantasies.

The trio is sandwiched by the opinions of a younger college-aged babysitter (Madilyn Margaret Cooper) and Catherine’s mother, an older woman of the ’50s generation (Phoebe Moyer). While it’s too bad that the two main women characters are an either-or option—career versus motherhood, instead of the blended version most women try and balance—the additional generations insert much-needed additional viewpoints.

The Capital Stage cast is captivating, expertly balancing comedy with drama, and the simple set has a twist that demonstrates the fragility of the walls we put up and the homes we construct. Be prepared to have great discussions and debates afterward.