Twenty-five-year-old plays are usually awkward adolescents--too old to coo over just because they're cute and say the darnedest, most unexpected things; too young to have any wisdom. Burn This (set in 1987, it opened off-Broadway in that year), wears its 1987-ness very, very well. So well that I went home unable to shake two seemingly unrelated movies out of my head: Moonstruck and Fatal Attraction. I quickly found out why. Both were among the top ten grossing movies of 1987.
What were people doing back then that made it such a vintage year? In Fatal Attraction, and in Burn This, women are living in lower Manhattan lofts and establishing successful careers for themselves in the arts. Fatal Attraction suggested that we should be wary of women who choose this lifestyle, that they are one rejection away from a psychotic break. Wilson, on the other hand, takes it as a given that this life is as bracing and productive for a woman as for a man.