"Burn is an entertaining and often compelling puzzle, and Patrick Truelove’s Sidekick Players production, built around a commanding central performance, gives full value to the play’s cleverness and intricacy. We really want to find out who did what to whom."

"To understand and appreciate the ending, we need to be able to follow along the circuitous garden path down which the playwright takes us. And that we do, to the bitter, poetically just end."
- Jerry Wasserman, Vancouver Plays/Vancouver Sun



​"This is a good quality contemporary thriller that delivers a highly entertaining hour. It is recommended for fans of horror, mysteries and ghostly goings on....Playwright John Muggleton’s clever and often funny writing is brought to life by four talented and very believable performers. They move naturally about the thrust stage ensuring the whole audience is carried along on the exciting narrative journey that whizzes by without any dip in dialogue or action.​"
- Jim Judges, www.fringereview.co.uk


"Fabulous night of storytelling at Dartmouth Players’ Sawmill Theatre last night! Amazing ensemble cast; it was so much fun to watch their collective mood shift as the mystery builds and the plot twists." 
- JC Douglas, C100 Radio morning show Halifax


"Nothing is as it seems in Burn, the play by Canadian playwright John Muggleton chosen to open the 2021/2022 season of Cookstown’s South Simcoe Theatre. Burn is an exploration of friendship and betrayal – a psychological thriller, filled with secrets, exposure, revenge, humor, even love, and as many twists and turns as a fire running underground."
- Mariam King, Bradford Times


"Burn is a highly suspenseful ghost story that holds you in its fiery grip right up until the final moments."
- Alan Mackey, On Stage Ottawa


"It’s great to see the Sawmill pushing the envelope with dark, contemporary, provocative theatre... Burn boasts its share of surprises. Tackling this firecracker of a script is one ambitious feat."
- Carey Bray, Halifaxbloggers.ca


"Because everything in the production is tuned to portray the normality of these characters, the reveal of the mystery comes as a total shock to the audience. This production of Burn was an outstanding opener for Sidekick Players’ 2018/19 season at the Tsawwassen Arts Centre."
- Pat Thiesen, Delta Optimist


"As a suspense playwright, Muggleton appreciates the need to orchestrate surprises. Like J.B. Priestley in An Inspector Calls and Anthony Shaffer in Sleuth, he understands the dramatic devices that can work in throwing an audience off balance."

"Burn has more provocative concerns in mind than such Christieland items as A Murder Has Been Announced or And Then There Were None."
- Jamie Portman, Capital Critics Circle


"I was almost dumbstruck by how naturalistic Burn felt, and the sense that I was peering in on a group of old friends whose lives were slowly being turned upside down for reasons they didn't understand was wonderful, and more than a little unsettling."
- Kevin Reid, The Visitorium


"John Muggleton’s sense of humour stays hidden until the last moment of the play... I enjoyed the play enormously, it was well acted, excellently scripted and directed. The set was also perfectly gloomy to really add shadows to the corners of our minds and the play." 
- Stacey Diffin-Lafleur, Ottawa Tonite



"Muggleton is a talented playwright who is able to construct a complex network of relations that let themselves morph into an apparent horror story before anyone realizes what is happening. Muggleton knows his craft and even when the end seems in sight, he still keeps us begging for more until the final moments." 
- Alvina Ruprecht, Capital Critics Circle


"Muggleton ultimately takes the audience from comfort and intimacy to the edge of their seats in suspense in Burn."

"Muggleton and the cast take the time to establish characters and invite the audience into their private world. Empathy is a powerful drug and it’s this intimacy that makes the suspense and horror, when it does come, that much more powerful."

"It’s obvious that Muggleton knows a thing or two about people – how they love, how they doubt, and what and how they fear."
- Maja Stefanovska, Capital Critics Circle 


" I cannot remember ever being so fully engaged, so genuinely curious about an outcome, just as eager to hear the rest of Eve's story as she was to tell it. I often find myself "reviewing" the performances or second guessing the director, designer etc. Not so in this production. Any such inclinations were suspended as I got lost in the plot. John's play is insanely brilliant. 
James Holmes, Director, Past President Kanata Theatre


"Fabulous night of storytelling at Dartmouth Players’ Sawmill Theatre last night! Amazing ensemble cast; it was so much fun to watch their collective mood shift as the mystery builds and the plot twists."
- JC Douglas, C100 Radio morning show Halifax


"The show is new, but the themes are timeless: trust, pride and consequences – then, you add a ghost story with a twist, and you’re left questioning everything you thought you knew, in this ultramodern psychological thriller! Emotions will run high, the tension will be palpable, and the unexpected ending will be incredibly satisfying." 
- JACK 92.9, Halifax


“When you think on the play then more questions come, and some of them are never resolved,” said Pyrce, the play’s director. “Every time I read it or watch it, new things occur to me.”
 - Shane Maconald, Innisfil Journal




Burn
Edinburgh Fringe
Review by Adrian Ross
August 9, 2022


This show bursts into life with great energy, as three old friends reunite in the wake of another friend’s death. It’s quickly established that their familiarity with each other belies a certain estrangement in recent years. Thus a pattern is set, and we’re drawn into a socially warm situation on the surface, with unsettling elements and intrigue lurking beneath. The friends have been brought together by the dead man’s daughter, whom they have never met. As soon as she arrives, it’s clear something isn’t right. Host Robert becomes suspicious, but Samantha declares that Eve is ‘sweet’. Their guest fawns over Robert, a writer whose wife, we learn, disappeared five years previously. At the same time, Eve snubs Robert’s publisher, David, a vice-president – but of what precisely, we never discover. David’s thwarted desire to mansplain his work role is one of writer John Muggleton’s many comic touches. These lighten the mood, yet make the descent into darker territory steeper and more shocking.

As the story unfolds, there are well-timed revelations and, in a clever reflexive sequence, storytelling itself comes under discussion. Muggleton successfully gets you interested in various strands of backstory, which all add to the immediate drama. This compares favourably with some other shows, which work terribly hard to take you to other times and places, yet somehow never escape their performance space. Ottawa Little Theatre has the edge in terms of staging, too. Its ingenious, minimalist set, on a thrust stage area, does much to suggest Robert’s home while enabling a restless movement through action and reaction, as Eve confronts her father’s friends with her uncanny knowledge of their past lives.

Burn is described as ‘a contemporary thriller’ but it also fits squarely within a long tradition of ensemble mystery dramas. A coast-to-coast hit in Canada, this welcome European outing shows how a genre piece can facilitate sparkling dialogue, well-drawn characters and a gripping plot. In the hands of director Venetia Lawless, it becomes just over an hour’s worth of really entertaining theatre.  Its drive to entertain is perhaps the key to this production. 


Rating:  ★★★★

Burn Reviews

John Muggleton

Playwright