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REVIEW: "Burn This" is Performance Network's Intriguing Season Closer

The 1980s gritty drama will entertain audiences at the Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor.

Performance Network presents Lanford Wilson's 1980s play Burn This, an intriguing drama that features some of the best performances of the season.

Focused around an ensemble of four actors, Burn This first premiered on Broadway in the decade it was set, featuring noted actors John Malkovich and Joan Allen. It tells the story of Anna (played by Quetta Carpenter), a former ballet dancer and aspiring choreographer, who is faced with the sudden and tragic death of her friend and collaborator, Robbie. Rounding out this motley crew are her homosexual best friend, Larry (Kevin Young), her screenplay-writing lover (Jon Bennett) and Robbie's estranged, strung-out older brother, Pale (Darrell Glasgow). Together they deal with issues of loss and rediscovery, tied to their lost loved one and themselves.

Carpenter, making her debut at the Network, is one of the most impressive actresses to appear with the company in recent seasons. Her interpretation of Anna is a fully realized portrayal, showcasing aspects both bold and subtle. Some of her most enjoyable moments are when her character is merely sitting and observing, while leaving her inner thoughts and emotions clearly visible.

Young, who appeared earlier this season in , gives Larry's character an amusing sparkle, providing the source for much of the play's verbal humor, while Bennett conveys an appropriate sense of internal conflict. But Glasgow is given the greatest range to play with, first bursting onto the scene with a stream of profanity before collapsing in a flood of tears. His balance of the bombastic and vulernable sides of Pale's personality, coupled with the requirement that he deliver many lines in spitfire fashion, makes for a dynamic and mesmerizing performance.

Monika Essen's set and Suzanne Young's costumes are impressively detailed and realistically designed to suit the late '80s, serving to support the period without making unnecessary comments on style. If this past season is any indication, Dexter area audiences are fortunate they don't have to wait long till the next. Burn This runs until Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, visit www.performancenetwork.org/.

David Wolber August 16, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Thanks for the review, Angie! Here are some more reviews for your readers: "Blessed with this talented ensemble, director Ray Schultz works the play's various tones, which make it tragic, funny and volatile, often at the same time. ...Performance Network's production reveals it to be a Wilson work that is aging well. - Detroit Free Press <http://www.freep.com/article/20120816/ENT05/308160042/-Burn-This-sizzles-at-Performance-Network-Theatre> "Lanford Wilson's wonderful words, delivered by Darrell Glasgow as if in some sort of supercharged poetry slam, stun and mesmerize the audience. In fact, the entire Performance Network cast is fascinating; it is thrilling to watch how they manage to provide each other essential balance to withstand the centrifugal force that threatens to spin them all out of control." - Examiner.com <http://www.examiner.com/review/an-incendiary-production-of-burn-this-lights-up-performance-network-theatre> "Both [Quetta] Carpenter and [Darrell] Glasgow bring flesh tones to their performances, intensity without raucousness, tenderness without overplaying, and the relaxation works, as each gives in to their neediness. " - Encore Michigan <http://www.encoremichigan.com/article.html?article=6431> "the polished cast lands the script's subtle moments of humor (particularly [Kevin T.] Young) and works exceedingly well as an ensemble." - AnnArbor.com <http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/review-burn-this-at-performance-network/>

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