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Burn This is a play by Lanford Wilson. Like many of Wilson's plays, it deals with themes of gay identity and relationships.



The play 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.[1]


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.[2] The play was initially produced by Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, California in 1987, also directed by Marshall Mason.[3][4][5]

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 original cast appeared in the Broadway production.[6][7] Over the course of the production, replacements and understudies included Lisa Emery, Scott Glenn, Lonny Price and Eric Roberts.[8][9]

Sydney Theatre Company presented Burn This, starring Heather Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh, at the Wharf Theatre in 1990.

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.[10] 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.[11] Peter Sarsgaard replaced Edward Norton, and Elisabeth Shue took over for Catherine Keener on November 20, 2002.[10][11][12]

1990 LondonEdit

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.[4]

2017 Broadway revivalEdit

A Broadway revival of Burn This had been announced to begin in February 2017 and open on March 6, 2017, at the re-opened Hudson Theatre. Jake Gyllenhaal would have starred, with direction by Michael Mayer.[13] However, on October 21, 2016, it was announced that the production has been postponed until the 2017-18 Season, due to scheduling conflicts with Gyllenhaal.[14]. On December 14, 2017, several trade magazines announced that a new production of "Burn This' was scheduled for 2019, with Adam Driver in the role of Pale.[15]


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.[7]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "'Burn This' 1987", accessed September 3, 2015
  3. ^ Gerard, Jeremy. "Limited Run for Wilson Play", The New York Times, January 9, 1987, p. C5
  4. ^ a b "From Missouri to Manhattan", Discovery and Invention: The Urban Plays of Lanford Wilson, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1994, ISBN 0838635482, pp. 28-29
  5. ^ Wilson, Lanford. "Script", Burn This: A Play, Macmillan, 1988, ISBN 0374521581, p. 102
  6. ^ Rich, Frank. "The Dancer Upstairs" The New York Times, October 15, 1987
  7. ^ a b "'Burn This' Broadway", accessed September 3, 2015
  8. ^ "'Burn This' Listing 1987 see Replacement" Internet Broadway Database, accessed September 3, 2015
  9. ^ "'Burn This' To Close" The New York Times, October 27, 1988
  10. ^ a b Weinstein, Jerry and Lohrey, David. "review. 'Burn This' 2002" CurtainUp, September 15, 2002 and December 15, 2002
  11. ^ a b "'Burn This' 2002", accessed September 3, 2015
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. "'Burn This' Re-Ignites With Shue and Sarsgaard Nov. 20" Playbill, November 20, 2002
  13. ^ Henry, Alan. "'Breaking: Jake Gyllenhaal Will Return to Broadway in 'Burn This' at The Hudson Theatre", July 19, 2016.
  14. ^ "Broadway Revival of Lanford Wilson's 'Burn This' Postponed Until 2017-18 Season", October 21, 2016
  15. ^

External linksEdit