Gina Gionfriddo is the author of Becky Sharp, a sharp-witted American comedy of modern sexual manners, which was seen at the Almeida in 2011. With its endless supply of wisecracks, it was an excellent example of the genre and played to continuous laughter. It deserved a transfer to the West End.
Gionfriddo’s new play, Rapture, Bluster, Burn, is not nearly so good. The focus is on two women. One (Emilia Fox) is single and has a career. She is an academic and writes books on gender politics. The other (Emma Fielding) is a stay-at-home obsessive mum (Emma Fielding) married to a mediocre, indifferent, and non-ambitious man (Adam James) who once had, before he was married, an affair with the academic and decides to leave his wife and live with her again.
“I want to come home!” he tells his wife after a very brief fling. The line was greeted by an outraged female member of the audience with such an extremely loud “WHAT???” that her impulsive reaction got the biggest laugh of the evening and completely stopped the show.
The women sit around and debate. Have women’s lives changed in the last four decades? What impact has internet pornography had on the American psyche? They are joined by a grandmother (Polly Adams) and a precocious 21-year-old college student and baby-sitter, who is played by Shannon Tarbet, who looks and behaves much younger.
But do you really want to go to the theatre to be lectured at? There are lots of quotations from such writers on gender politics as Phyllis Schlafly and Betty Friedan. Gionfriddo’s didacticism may well prove too much, even for feminists.
by Robert Tanitch, Mature Times theatre reviewer