Sunday, November 27, 2011
Just came back from NYC, which is always a pain in the ass. But worth it to see Thomas Bradshaw's Burning at the Acorn Theatre. Wow. What an amazing, provocative, seething mess of a play: so ambitious and enthralling and fascinating. I really felt like I was seeing a whole new type of play. First of all, I can't even believe it was produced, at all: a new play with 13 roles that includes scenes of incest, murder, graphic sex and violence and neo-Nazis talking about the importance of fiber in your diet? I kept wondering what theatre in Boston would be brave enough to produce this play before anyone else, and the answer, sadly, was NONE OF THEM. Never mind the subject matter or the endless nudity and simulated butt-fucking required of the cast: it wouldn't get past the "new play with 13 roles" part. To be fair, I don't think the play could really be produced anywhere BUT New York. It's the only city where the audience wouldn't all walk out or try to burn the theatre down (and there were walk outs, believe me.)
So, I hate to admit it, but: you win New York. Again.
Man, this was crazy, risky, insane theatre. It talked about race and sexuality and queerness in ways that theatre just hasn't yet. It reminded me of Sarah Kane, but where her language is poetic and heightened, Bradshaw's is completely mundane, even awkward, which makes the shocking nature of the scenarios even more strange and ugly: two gay men casually inviting their adoptive son into a menage a trois; a neo-Nazi engaging in mastrubation with his creepy, paralyzed 16-year-old sister in a bath tub. Lots and lots of anal sex. Themes of exploitation and internalized racism and the commercialization of art, all piled on top of each other and bending back and forth between the 1980s and the present.
If you are in New York, go see this play. Really.
Addendum: I just got my copy of American Theatre, and the complete text of Bradshaw's "Ashes" is included. "Ashes" appears to be a play that became part of "Burning": the story surrounding Neo-Nazis and a black artist in Berlin.