Despite frequent laughs from Uranowitz, the production becomes increasingly static and empty over the course of two and a half hours of long-winded scenes. The play transferred to Broadway that same year for a critically acclaimed run at the Plymouth Theatre, earning Allen a Tony Award for her performance. . Can a play lie in wait? But Russell's Anna just hasn't the emotional weight to provide the heft needed for an equal and opposite reaction to Driver's Pale. Director Michael Mayer does the best he can with the imperfect play, and though over-long at two-and-a-half hours, the production catches fire every time Driver enters the room. The metaphor suits Anna all too well.
Anna has just returned from his thoroughly depressing funeral in New Jersey, where his estranged, clueless perhaps family has assumed she was his girlfriend. Turns out Kylo Ren is immensely compelling onstage - a genuine weirdo in the hulking, strangely graceful body of a former Marine, unafraid of huge, ugly displays of emotion, blazing through Pale's aggrieved, hilarious, F-word-peppered rants with the dexterity of a dancer like Robbie. 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. When Driver leaves the stage, you long for his return. Driver in Silence was as odd a placement as Keanu Reeves in Dangerous Liaisons.
On April 16, the first revival of Burn This opened at the Hudson Theatre. For anyone nostalgic for youth in a simpler time, the music will warm your heart, setting off a thousand sense memories of a more livable, affordable New York. Driver made his off-Broadway debut in 2009, appearing in Slipping at Rattlestick Playwright Theater and The Retributionists for Playwrights Horizons. Actually, it's fitting that Terrence McNally wrote a program note for this production; the unlikely lovers in his Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, which also premiered off-Broadway in 1987, are cut from the same cloth as Anna and Pale. It's only with Larry that she gets anything like equal billing, so Russell mostly disappears, though she does somehow make 80s mom jeans look impossibly chic.
Related Story Getting to the unfortunate point: Russell, so good in The Americans, is just no match for either Driver or the stage. He roars, he whispers, he prowls, plumbing the depths of grief, finding nuance and humor in an unpredictable and unsettling character. What we have in this case is a one-man conflagration. The two meet when he bursts through her door in the middle of the night. Both stars on stage at the Hudson Theatre have considerable tools at their disposal — Russell is fresh off the best work of her career on The Americans, Driver an Oscar nominee — but the revival of Burn This that opened there tonight is flame-retardant nonetheless. The play features highly actable parts in Pale and in Larry, a campy wisecracker whose references range from Wagner to Lust in the Dust. This show has all that, as well as contrivances and speeches more colorful than convincing.
With: Adam Driver, Keri Russell, David Furr, Brandon Uranowitz. Lanford Wilson is a great playwright and he clearly had a lot more on his mind than penning a romantic drama. He's reaching for the fly space and she's working in closeup, a problem exacerbated by the play, which seems fascinated by Pale and includes several scenes where Anna mostly just listens and reacts. Once onstage, Pale is the only character you see, Driver the only actor you watch. And it sounds as if the Incredible Hulk, feeling very impatient, is in the hallway — or maybe a runaway cyclone. Her journey from bewilderment to vexation to strange attraction is likely to mirror what the audience goes through, thanks to Driver. In a role that could have easily veered into stereotype, Uranowitz presents the right light touch with the quips and the wisdom he shares.
Then again, the character's crude, unfiltered spontaneity has an erotic appeal, and when he doubles over in heart-stricken grief, he pretty much seals it. Wilson 1937-2011 , only rarely stirs the heart. He's terrifying, sexy, and horrible all at the same time. Pale is the kind of steamroller role that is irresistible to actors-a sexy beast whose brutish pride masks a deep well of pain-and Driver gives it everything he's got. It's fun to watch him interact with Uranowitz's wonderfully wry Larry - who can't help smiling, as if from behind his hand, at such a splattery, honest display of personality - and with Furr's Burton, who's sympathetic despite his many blind spots, and who really doesn't mean to bust out his aikido training on Pale. He fills the room to such a degree that there is no space for anyone else in it to breathe, although he has such a mindless, loopy innocence that maybe King Kong is the wrong comparison.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: Follow Time Out Theater on Twitter: Keep up with the latest news and reviews on our By: Posted: Tuesday April 16 2019. Opened April 16, 2019; reviewed April 12. Driver won the Volpi Cup Award for Best Actor for Hungry Hearts, which premiered at the 2014 Venice Film Festival. Yet Anna is, for the most part, a noncharacter. Lanford Wilson's 1987 pas de quatre, to borrow a term from the play, remains a compelling account of love as a headlong plunge into the unknown, a risky jeté out of the ashes of sorrow and the stupor of safety into pulse-quickening passion.
Despite what the promos for this revival would have you believe, the actors playing Pale and Anna don't necessarily require house-on-fire chemistry. Better she had stayed with that rich, handsome, doting stiff. However, Russell and Driver lack the nuanced interplay and explosive electricity necessary to make the drama which is rather thin and has lost shock value over the years come alive. Now, it's Adam Driver's turn. 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 this production, deftly staged by director Michael Mayer, Driver plays Pale as a man-child with mad mood swings, displaying brilliant flashes of danger, absurdity, anguish and insight.