Lanford Wilson's 1987 play, Burn This, was inspired by a true story. Wilson heard about an unsuspecting woman forced to carry on her dead gay roommate's pretense of a straight life (in which she was cast as his girlfriend) to protect his family's image of him--with unforeseen consequences. A raw story of love among survivors, Burn This came after a difficult dry spell for Wilson, whose earlier works include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Talley's Folly and The Hot L Baltimore. Its premiere performance, in Los Angeles, starred John Malkovich (in a role written for him) and Joan Allen. An obviously relieved Wilson told interviewers it "flew" out of his typewriter and was his best work ever. In a run opening this weekend, Piven Theatre, training ground for John, Joan, and Ann Cusack, Lili Taylor, and Rosanna Arquette, among others, reprises Burn This, with F. David Roth (in the Malkovich role), Justine Scarpa, Jonathan Clark, and Scott Shallenbarger, directed by Jennifer Green. Tonight's benefit opening includes a reception after the show; tickets are $50. The play continues through November 12 at the theater, 927 Noyes in Evanston. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3; tickets are $21, $16 for students. Call 847-866-8049.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lorry Robin.