Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Life at the Theater: BURN THIS


We saw this last Saturday at the Performance Network in Ann Arbor. We have seen perhaps a dozen plays there over the years and all of them have been terrific.

BURN THIS is a Lanford Wilson play originally produced in 1987 with Joan Allen and John Malkovich. It's been a staple since that time with another Broadway appearance a decade ago. Wilson often deals with gay themes but it was a minor one in this play.

The acting was terrific in this production, (far better than some samples I saw on you tube) but there was something lacking in the play for us. We were not convinced that this couple would find their way to each other. Maybe there needed to be more heat in its direction. Or perhaps Wilson didn't quite write the words to make their relationship believable.

But it was well worth seeing as a document of the times and for the great performances. Although there are many movies I regret seeing (including the current Will Ferrell one) I have never regretted seeing a play.

The audience was very stingy with its applause at our performance. I felt like going backstage to apologize for the rush to the doors.

10 comments:

Kieran Shea said...

Wow! BURN THIS has to be one of my top 10 plays ever. Never got over it. When I'm making tea I always think about that scene when they talk about stomach acid.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My daughter agrees with you. I can't quite put my finger on why it didn't work for us.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just age - it's been 24 years since we saw the original production with Malkovich and Allen - but it hasn't stayed in my mind the way FIFTH OF JULY or TALLEY'S FOLLY have. I must admit that I am not a big John Malkovich fan and I often find Joan Allen cold.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We are not Malkovich fans either. The guy we saw did the part very well.

seana graham said...

I happened to see this a couple of years ago at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. In general it felt a little artificial, but the guy who played Pale did a great, great job and made at least that aspect of it vivid and memorable.

neer said...

Hi Patti

Here's my entry for the FFB. A review of Frederick Forsyth's 1972 collection of stories: No Comebacks.

http://inkquilletc.blogspot.in/2012/08/ffb-n-is-for-no-comebacks-by-fredrick.html

Thanks.

Charlieopera said...

Wow, I saw this baby in NY years ago with malkovich (GREAT), then eric roberts (eh) and then Ed Norton (Very good). First time Malkovich was so powerful, I completely forgot there was a scene that preceded his entrance (which was very powerful). Great stuff.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Oh, this one is one I hadn't seen. Thanks for the profile of it. I'll have to keep an eye out for a local production of it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Actually the scene that precedes his entrance is a terribly weak one-all exposition. So you were right to forget it.

Ron Scheer said...

Saw this in NY, too, with the original cast. About all I can remember is Malkovich's irritating long wig.