Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1023
Act I, scene 1
Burn This opens just after the death and funeral of Robbie, Anna and Larry's roommate. The action takes place in the roommates' loft, and as the play begins Anna is huddled on the sofa smoking, a drink in her hand. Burton arrives at the loft and is admitted. In the conversation that follows, the audience learns that Robbie and his partner, both of whom were gay, were killed recently in a boating accident. Anna was unable to reach Burton, who was out of town, and he has come to the apartment upon returning to New York and hearing the news. When Larry enters with groceries, the audience learns even more about the events of the past few days. The audience also learns about the nature of Anna and Burton's relationship. Although he is supposed to be her boyfriend, he could not be reached by phone when she needed him, and his initial interaction with Anna seems distant. Both Larry and Anna take turns describing Robbie's funeral and his family's reaction to his death. The audience learns that Robbie and Anna worked closely together and that she had recently changed careers from dancer to choreographer. Robbie was an integral part of Anna's new career, and his dancing was also a part of her choreography work. Thus, she has not only lost a friend and roommate, she has lost an artistic partner. Anna tells Burton that Robbie's family, none of whom had never seen him dance, did not acknowledge that he was gay. Instead, they assigned Anna the role of Robbie's girlfriend and treated her as his grieving widow. Both Larry and Anna are upset at this treatment by Robbie's family, and the dialogue serves an important purpose of establishing this family's background before the arrival of Pale, Robbie's older brother, who appears at the loft later in Act I. Anna, Larry, and Burton also talk about Burton's recent trip, the purpose of which was to help him rind sources and inspiration for his next screenplay. Burton makes a great deal of money for the sale of his scripts, but apparently feels no great loss at their sale and would just as soon not know how Hollywood uses his material.
Act I, scene 1
The scene opens with a pounding on the door; it is the middle of the night. Pale, enters the loft; he is loud and obnoxious. His speech makes little sense to Anna and is filled with obscenities. It is revealed that Pale is twelve years older than Robbie and that it has been a month since the funeral. Pale creates so much noise that Larry is awakened but returns to bed. The conversation between Pale and Anna is confrontational and unpleasant. At times neither seems to be listening to the other person and the speech becomes almost a monologue. As he has been speaking, Pale has also been undressing. When he breaks down, Anna tries to comfort him. Pale lies down on the sofa; his conversation is peppered with sexual innuendo, and the lights fade. When the stage lights come back up in a few moments, it is morning. The conversation between Anna and Larry reveals that Pale slept in Anna's bed. Anna states that Pale was like a bird with a broken wing that needed healing. Pale is anxious to leave and almost bolts from the loft, but first he tells Anna that he has a wife and children.
Act II, scene I
It is almost two months later, New Year's Eve. Anna and Burton are together. They are discussing their recent work when Larry returns early from a trip, interrupting what was obviously planned intimacy between Anna and Burton. The three begin talking and Burton tells a story about an anonymous quasi-homosexual experience he once had during a snow storm. The conversation ends when Larry opens the door and a very drunk Pale falls...
(The entire section contains 1023 words.)
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