Adam Driver, back on the big screen this weekend with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, will lead a Broadway revival next season of the late Lanford Wilson’s ferocious drama Burn This, producer David Binder (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Of Mice and Men) announced this morning. Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Spring Awakening) will direct the planned 2019 show, at a Broadway theater to be announced.
An earlier announcement of the revival, with a different producing team, featured Jake Gyllenhaal in the role, originated by John Malkovich in a memorable debut of the play about four New Yorkers whose lives are uprooted by a young dancer’s accidental death.
Set in downtown New York in the raw and gritty 1980s, the combustible drama explores the spiritual and emotional isolation of the dangerous, sexy, raw and demanding Pale (Driver) and the modern dancer Anna, and their tempestuous relationship after the two iconoclasts are brought together in the wake of a life-changing personal tragedy.
The original production of Burn This opened Off-Broadway in 1987 starring John Malkovich as Pale and Joan Allen as Anna, before transferring to Broadway in a critically acclaimed, award-winning production that ran from October 14, 1987 through October 29, 1988 for a total of 437 performances at the Plymouth Theatre. A nearly equally 2002 revival starred Edward Norton and Catherine Keener.
Pale’s furious, hilarious, expletive-embellished entrance is one of the great monologues in contemporary theater, as he bursts into Anna’s “artsy” downtown loft and captures the spirit of a city on the skids and a macho outsider with no love for the locale:
“Goddamn this f*ckin’ place. How can anyone live in this city? I’m not doin’ it. I’m not drivin’ my car in this goddamn sewer, every f*ckin’ time. Who are these assholes? Some bald-headed, fat-lipped son of a bitch thinks he can own this f*ckin space. The city’s got this space specially reserved for his private use. Twenty-five f*ckin’ minutes I’m driving around this garbage street; I pull up to this space, I look back, this f*ckin’ baby-shit green Miata’s on my ass going beep-beep …. “