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The Reviews Are In: ‘Burn This’ Starring Keri Russell and Adam Driver on Broadway

Category Broadway

|by Danielle Moore |

What did critics make of the long-awaited revival?

On April 16, the first Broadway revival of Burn This opened at the Hudson Theatre. The Lanford Wilson play, helmed by Spring Awakening director Michael Mayer, boasts not one but two Hollywood stars in the central roles of Pale and Anna, both of whom will also appear in Star Wars: Episode IX. Keri Russell and Adam Driver take the stage as, respectively, a choreographer who lost her best friend in an accident and the best friend’s estranged older brother, who barges into her life in the wake of his death. What did critics think of this romantic pairing, as well as the performances of supporting players – both Tony nominees – Brandon Uranowitz and David Furr? Read on for excerpts of 8 critics’ reviews of Burn This

Adam Driver stars as Pale, a New Jersey restaurant manager grieving his brother’s death, in ‘Burn This’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Adam Driver stars as Pale, a New Jersey restaurant manager grieving his brother’s death, in ‘Burn This’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

“Can a play lie in wait? Let’s say it can so we can say that it has: Lanford Wilson’s Burn This has been lurking about since 1987 anticipating the arrival of Adam Driver, and for that match-up alone the years haven’t been wasted.”

Entertainment Weekly
“Pale is a fantastically chewy part, somewhere between Marlon Brando and a silverback gorilla on the scale of raging alpha-male id; if he had one of those lizard frills to fan out or a caveman’s club to swing, he would. And Driver owns every moment of it with awesome physicality, whether he’s ranting about parking spaces, howling in psychic pain, or just taking note of his own internal thermostat…Driver moves through it all like his own weather system, maybe the most entertaining hurricane onstage this year so far.”

The Guardian
“For flammability, that leaves Driver, an actor of real volatility who can sell strength and sex and anguish all at the same time. His Pale is bad, bad news – any reasonable person would have changed the locks on him after his first scene. But you might fall for him, too.”

The Hollywood Reporter
“When Adam Driver barrels onto the stage as the coked-up restaurant manager Pale in Burn This, he doesn't just give off sparks, he threatens to explode, blowing out the full wall of industrial glass windows in designer Derek McLane's converted Lower Manhattan warehouse set…It's a credit then to the luminous Russell and the two fine supporting actors in director Michael Mayer's slick revival that nobody gets swallowed up in Pale's vortex of bubbling testosterone.” 

New York Daily News
“There is very much to like about Driver’s performance. What (the original Pale, John) Malkovich did in 1987 would be untenable now, and Driver finds enough vulnerability in Pale, and sufficient unctuous humor and erotic charge, that we empathize with his concealed pain.”

New York Post
“Michael Mayer’s fine cast plays up the humor, and then some. By hinting at the loneliness underlying Larry’s one-liners, Brandon Uranowitz makes the character more than a pre-Will & Grace sidekick, while David Furr, dashing and confident, holds his own in the fairly thankless role of Burton. And Russell? She’s just plain beautiful in a star turn filled with the rich, emotional honesty that made her irresistible in TV’s Felicity…Driver, a theater actor long before he starred in TV’s Girls and started his Kylo Ren tour in Star Wars, gives a performance as wonderfully weird as it is vanity-free…He and Russell have palpable chemistry, even as the prospect of becoming a couple terrifies Anna and Pale.”

“Driver is riveting here, and audiences will identify with Anna’s dilemma of both wanting him to leave and needing him to stay. In many ways, Burn This is Anna’s play, but any actress would find it hard to compete against the monologues-as-arias that Wilson gives Pale. There are no such showcase moments for Anna, though Russell can be a spellbinder, too, as she tells the story of being in a room filled with pinned butterflies…In a role that could have easily veered into stereotype, Uranowitz presents the right light touch with the quips and the wisdom he shares…But it’s the two stars who give the production of this imperfect play its brilliance, showing that the brightest fires burn from within.”

The Wrap
“(Driver) not only gives a towering performance, he is a tower. If the Ponce Monolith at Tiwanaku ever came to life, it would be Driver’s Pale…Pale’s tirades show Wilson in peak form, and Driver does them full justice as he races from insult to demand to petty concern and then back to insult and demand and concern about his trousers not being properly pressed.”

For more of the best of Broadway, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in April 2019

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