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Theater Notes: Lanford Wilson’s ‘Burn This’

February 15, 2017
By Sidney B. Simon , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Live theater is one of the legacies I am leaving for our children and grandkids.

I believe in live theater. I don't give socks, underwear or jewelry for birthdays. Down through the years, they just got tickets for plays.

If you have any high school or college age family, I urge you to go with them to see the play on the boards right now at the Laboratory Theater of Florida in Fort Myers. It is one of the most exciting and impressive shows in town.

Way back in the late 1980s, we took two of our oldest sons to see it in New York when it starred John Malkovich and Joan Allen. It is a cherished memory, and now this classic play has been brought to life in Fort Myers with Paul Graffy and Annette Trossbach in the leads with such dazzle, it might have made Malkovich and Allen envious.

Here's the plot: the play opens in a Soho loft shortly after the funeral of Robbie, a young, gay dancer who drowned in a boating accident with his lover Dom. We meet Robbie's two roommates. One is his sensitive dance partner and choreographer, Anna, played so brilliantly by Annette Trossbach. She brightens that stage with her gifts for physical humor and fierce attention to the play's nuances and her character's passion.

The other roommate is an emerging star in Fort Myers theater, Brandon Somers. He sings like a bird and handles changes in the gripping drama like a real pro. Then the giant explosion comes from the arrival of Pale, Robbie's coke-snorting, hyperactive restaurant manager brother, boldly and wildly acted by Paul Graffy.

We also meet the more gentle and rational Burton, Anna's longtime lover, deftly played by Rob Green.

Their shared tragedy causes conflicts that fire back and forth, gripping the audience. In a mystery, the playwright bounces the question "Who did it?" In this play the quartet makes us ask, "What would I have done in those circumstances?" It's what you will talk about for the whole ride home. You won't regret coming and the fine performances will remain in your memory for a long time. Yes, make it a must see for your theater season.

Now, a lot of the credit for the extraordinary evening must go to the director, Ann Dodd. The performances she drew out of the quartet of actors is a testimony to her artistry. Just the way it is in community theater, she also worked on the set and the sounds. Production values were superb. Hats off to you, Ann Dodd. You kept live theater alive and gave us a memorable theatrical triumph.

"Burn This" runs Thursday through Saturday. until Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. Matinees at 2 p.m. are Feb. 12, 19 and 26. Call fast for tickets at (239)218-0481 or online at

Keep live theater live. Go see "Burn This." Congratulations to all of you.



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