Getting Warmer: WHY THINGS BURN


“You’re not the only one to hear a song in the woods, or crinkle cellophane in the wind, or catch rain in a bottle. The gods let you do that.”

 There are mysterious truths one can learn from the searing light of a flame, the aftermath of swallowing a razor, the crinkle of cellophane grasped tight by a greedy hand. In slightly more than an hour, Director Van Quattro’s fearless cast of misfit dreamers will show you why, and how in Ric Krause’s WHY THINGS BURN, and maybe even singe your soul a bit. The show runs at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park, in a limited engagement through January 24.

Is it an unfinished treatment for a screenplay? A personal diatribe against the hypocrisy of Hollywood, revenge riff by a jilted screenwriter? Strike a match and get a clue Friday night January 23rd, when playwright Ric Krause flies in to attend the performance and participate in a talkback. I’m all fired up to stand close to that flame of enlightenment. Burn, baby, burn.

WHY THINGS BURN plays like a treasure map with parts singed off. Important parts. Krause wrote it in the 80’s then shelved it inexplicably. His writing colleague Van Quattro never forgot it. This January, with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Quattro fans the smoldering script into full conflagration. Watching it, you want more heat. You want to burn down the whole damn theatre to learn who these people really are and how they got so warped and where they go next. Nobody in this region creates such visceral, dramatic intensity except for Matthew Posey at The Ochre House. Posey’s unorthodox imaginative work is image-driven, always a journey. Krause’s emerges through text and character interplay. Both lure you onto a carnival-esque soul-ride to lost virginal turf….

No cause here to torch any of Krause’s haunting characters. Women emerge stronger than men, functioning as catalysts to destruction, unconventional predators, or flickering underbelly reality of the ostensibly helpless ingénue. Men hope, dream and love, held captive by the sexual flame of women’s charms, driven to explosive madness. The young male protagonist pursues the acrid smoke of self-destruction on his “Hero’s Quest”. Topsy-turvy, the anti-Hollywood script. Rub your fingers together at play’s end and you can almost feel sandpaper ashes of despair between them, cascading down like acid rain.

No cause here to torch any of Quattro’s taut ensemble cast. This isn’t naturalism, folks, but all actors create a tangible human reality boiling over in each role. Cindee Mayfield, Nikki Cloer, Elias Taylorson, Danny O’Connor, Charles Wallace, Andrew Kasten, Patrick Douglass, Pat Dohoney – all primed and simmering to fire up an Act Two. So when do we get to bask in its glow?

 WHY THINGS BURN: fit fare for introspective admirers of unorthodox drama…. Fan those flames. Don’t miss the peculiar chill only long-smoldering literary cinders can puff like pensive smoke into the darkest corners of your soul.

January 22, 23 and 24 at 8pm. Margo Jones Theatre.

 For tickets:

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