Burn This is a play by Lanford Wilson. Like many of Wilson's plays, it deals with themes of gay identity and relationships.
It begins shortly after the funeral of Robbie, a young gay dancer who drowned in a boating accident with his lover Dom. In attendance were Robbie's roommates: his sensitive dance partner and choreographer, Anna, and confident gay ad man Larry. Soon joining them in Robbie's lower-Manhattan loft are screenwriter Burton (Anna's longtime lover), and Pale (Robbie's coke-snorting, hyperactive restaurant manager brother). In the face of their shared tragedy, the quartet attempts to make sense of their lives and reconsider their own identities and relationships. Anna learns to be independent and self-confident; she pursues her interest in choreography and begins a relationship with Pale, breaking off her dispassionate relationship with her longtime boyfriend.
Burn This was commissioned by the Circle Repertory Company. The play premiered Off-Broadway on February 19, 1987, at Theatre 890. Directed by Marshall W. Mason, the cast featured Jonathan Hogan, Joan Allen, John Malkovich, and Lou Liberatore. This production won the 1988 Henry Hewes Design Award, Scenic Design, John Lee Beatty. The play was initially produced at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, California in 1987, also directed by Marshall Mason. According to an article in The New York Times, the play was only going to run for 21 performances after the February 18 opening, because Malkovich had a film commitment. The article (dated January 9, 1987) further stated: "The Circle Rep production will premiere at the Mark taper Forum in Los Angeles next week."
The play transferred to Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre, opening on October 14, 1987 and closing on October 29, 1988 after 437 performances and seven previews. Again directed by Mason the same cast appeared in the Broadway production. The cast was replaced by Lisa Emery, Scott Glenn, Lonny Price and Eric Roberts as of October 14, 1987.
The Signature Theatre Company revival, directed by James Houghton, opened on August 27, 2002 in previews, officially on September 19, 2002 at the Union Square Theatre, closing on December 29, 2002. The cast featured Edward Norton, Catherine Keener, Ty Burrell, and Dallas Roberts. Norton won an Obie Award and both he and the production received Lucille Lortel Award nominations. Peter Sarsgaard replaced Edward Norton, and Elisabeth Shue took over for Catherine Keener on November 20, 2002.
The West End production, directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, opened on November 7, 1990, at the Lyric Theatre. Malkovich and Liberatore were joined by Juliet Stevenson and Michael Simkins. The play had previously played an engagement at the Hampstead Theatre, prior to transferring to the Lyric Theatre.
Allen won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, and Liberatore was nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Play. Drama Desk Award nominations went to Liberatore and Malkovich, and Roberts won the Theatre World Award.
- Jacobi, Martin J. "'The Monster Within' in Lanford Wilson's Burn This", Lanford Wilson: A Casebook, Jackson R. Bryer (ed.), Garland Publishing, Inc.: New York, 1994, pp. 131–49.
- "'Burn This' 1987" lortel.org, accessed September 3, 2015
- Gerard, Jeremy. "Limited Run for Wilson Play", The New York Times, January 9, 1987, p. C5
- "From Missouri to Manhattan", Discovery and Invention: The Urban Plays of Lanford Wilson, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1994, ISBN 0838635482, pp. 28-29
- Wilson, Lanford. "Script", Burn This: A Play, Macmillan, 1988, ISBN 0374521581, p. 102
- Rich, Frank. "The Dancer Upstairs" The New York Times, October 15, 1987
- "'Burn This' Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed September 3, 2015
- "'Burn This' Listing 1987 see Replacement" Internet Broadway Database, accessed September 3, 2015
- "'Burn This' To Close" The New York Times, October 27, 1988
- Weinstein, Jerry and Lohrey, David. "review. 'Burn This' 2002" CurtainUp, September 15, 2002 and December 15, 2002
- "'Burn This' 2002" lortel.org, accessed September 3, 2015
- Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. "'Burn This' Re-Ignites With Shue and Sarsgaard Nov. 20" Playbill, November 20, 2002