Shattered Globe Theatre presents BURN THIS. It’s NYC in the 80s. Anna, Burton, Larry and Pale are stuck. Anna is choreographing lackluster productions. The work sustains her but doesn’t necessarily fulfill her. Her indifference seeps into her personal life as she continues to reject marital proposals from her long-term boyfriend Burton. He is a successful but struggling writer. Burton wants to break out of his sci-fi fame into a new genre but he is suffering from writers block. Larry is one of Anna’s roommates. Although he is a successful ad exec, his personal life is wrapped up in his roommates’ drama. The balance of their world becomes lopsided by the passing of one person and the entrance of another. Pale is the older brother of Anna’s other roommate. He is caustic, unpredictable and married. The unexpected drowning of Robbie catapults these four people out of their day to day routine. BURN THIS ignites the paper it was written on.
Playwright Lanford Wilson penned this tale in 1986. 25+ years ago, a family denying a member’s homosexuality was probably fairly common. I’m hoping this is now a ludicrous notion. Despite the relevance of that premise, the idea of adults trapping themselves in dead-end jobs and relationships is a timeless theme. Wilson created four distinct characters and forced them to interact. Under the direction of Linda Gillum, this cast crackles with humanity and volatility. Gillum starts the play with a flicker in the darkness. Gillum piles it on to turn the ashes from that cigarette into a raging bonfire. This show is all about smoldering passions and Gillum has the cast fan the flames. A simmering Kate LoConti (Anna) and a blustering Ryan Kitley (Pale) take turns being the tormentor and the victim. Their authentic exchange intrigues and startles. These are real people with real flaws dealing with real problems and just like in real life, the outcome is real messy. A steadfast Brad Woodward (Burton) and a hilarious Jake Szczepaniak (Larry) support the story. In particular, a very funny Szczepaniak fills the stage with over-the-top but controlled personality.
Scenic Designer Andrew Hildner has built the loft that I’ve always wanted. Exposed brick, wooden floors, huge windows with color panes, it’s gorgeous! (I want to make an offer.) Gillum effectively uses the space and even builds the fourth wall as dance studio mirrors. Every time the cast is looking directly at the audience, we understand that they are looking at their own reflection. It’s profound!
BURN THIS is a personal contemplation on getting out of the comfort zone. It’s meant to poke dormant embers to see what flares up. So, now that you’re done reading this, go out and BURN THIS!
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission
At Theatre Wit, 1229 W. Belmont
Written by Lanford Wilson
Directed by Linda Gillum
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm
Thru November 18th
Buy Tickets at www.shatteredglobe.org
Production photograph courtesy of by Sean Parks.