Burn This

The script about an animalistic love affair focuses too much on a dead character

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Through Feb. 19

Tickets are $20-38

861-8972

www.nctcsf .org

New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (between Oak and Fell), S.F.

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At the center of this play about lifestyle divides is the coked-out restaurateur Pale -- a dangerous and coarse fireball of machismo who invades the lives of a New York dancer named Anna, her scriptwriting boyfriend, Burton, and Larry, a flamboyant adman, all of whom are trying to grieve the death of their gay roommate. What results is an animalistic apples-and-oranges love affair between the brute Pale and the refined Anna. The fatal flaw of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson's script is that the audience is subjected to endless reminiscing and chest-pounding about a character who never appears onstage and is dead before the action begins. As Larry, Nate Levine provides much-needed comic relief with his quick-witted repartee, and Benjamin Fritz brings depth and sensitivity to Pale (a part written originally for John Malkovich and more recently played by Edward Norton) as he struggles with his brother's homosexuality and a romance that can never work. Shortcomings aside, Christopher Jenkins' production truly touches on a feeling of unrest that permeates today's society. As Anna says, "I'm sick of the age I'm living in. I don't like feeling ripped off and scared."

 
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