Burn This, a revival of a 1980’s play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, well deserves the five Tony award nominations it has received this year. The exceptional performance by Adam Driver will leave you breathless.
The tragic death of a young, gay dancer named Robbie has left his two roommates and his older brother broken-hearted. Anna (Keri Russell from “The Americans”) and Larry (Tony-nominated Brandon Uranowitz), are shattered by Robbie’s death and wander listlessly around their apartment recalling moments they shared with him. Having just met Robbie’s family for the first time at the funeral, Anna wonders how she could have known so little about someone she thought she knew so well. A major theme of Burn This, –that we are strangers to ourselves even more than to the those who think they know us best–sets fireworks throughout the extraordinary and sometimes very funny dialogue.
With the unleashed frenzy of a tornado,–an entrance of sound and fury– Robbie’s older brother, Pale (Adam Driver of “Girls” and the last two Star Wars movies), opens the door to Anna and Larry’s apartment in New York City. He has arrived there unannounced to collect his brother’s belongings. He is unhinged, in a drug-induced state of mind, burdened by a grief that deranges. In spite of having had little recent contact with Robbie over the years, Pale’s guilt and remorse are obvious. He is hiding a bitter secret and is oblivious to how he is impacting Anna and Larry’s own mourning for Robbie.
Anna has an entitled, scriptwriter boyfriend, Burton (David Furr), who assumes he will marry her. But the anguish and pheromones are palpable and jolt Anna and Pale into love or lust or something more relentless and unexpected.
Failure to connect with one another, fear of intimacy, lack of empathy for another’s aspirations and uncertainty with one’s own feelings of desire and need: Burn This sizzles with humor, darkness and ambiguity.
Such a crowd-pleaser! I hope Burn This will travel nationwide like “Book of Mormon”, “Hamilton”, and “Dear Evan Hansen”. There is something for everyone in the audience to relate to!