“Burn This” Presented by theatre|twenty-two (T22) at 12th Ave. Arts

Anna (Carolyn Marie Monroe), the lithe and lovely dancer/choreographer is grief stricken. Robbie, her dance partner and housemate has been killed in a freaky boating accident. She’s heartbroken, too, that his family never knew the brilliant Robbie, Robbie the dancer/choreographer. The Robbie they knew was gay. That was sufficient.

Photo by Margaret Toomey

Her other housemate, gay Larry, played sensitively and with fine humor by Alex Garnett, is also devastated by this senseless death. He uses wry comments to conceal his grief. Clearly this downtown loft is a house of deeply felt but restrained mourning.

All restraint is lost, however, when Robbie’s cokehead brother, Pale, played by Tim Gouran, slams his way into the apartment and spews forth his rage. Of course he’s devastated by his brother’s death, but for him grief isn’t a quiet or contained emotion. He’s a madman, has the emotional control of a tiger in heat. He thrashes and crashes through the apartment. Inevitably, Anna’s straight boyfriend, Burton (Jason Sanford) has his encounter with the wild-eyed, half-mad Pale. The contrast between the two types (archetypical males) is one of the fascinating elements of the play.

Director Corey McDaniel knows how to get the best from his actors. All four masterfully deliver the marvelous dialog provided by playwright Lanford Wilson and bring a shattering physicality to each of their roles.

It all plays out on Margaret Toomey’s set that captures the essence of a downtown New York loft apartment. It has floor to ceiling windows made up of blocks of glass, some colored, some not; an open upper room, and the locks and padlocks that New Yorkers know they need.

By the way, when this play opened in New York in 1987, Steppenwolf’s John Malkovitch played Pale and its Joan Allen played Anna to rave reviews. This cast deserves similar praise.

Through Nov. 18 at 12th Avenue Arts, 1620 12th Ave., info@theatre22.org or 206-257-2203.

Leave a Reply