Saffron Burrows in rehearsal for This
(© Craig Schwartz)
Saffron Burrows in rehearsal for This
(© Craig Schwartz)
In the winter of 2009, actress Saffron Burrows was working in New York, and she remembers seeing virtually everything that was playing there at the time. There was, however, one particular show that escaped her: the world premiere production of Melissa James Gibson's This, at Playwrights Horizons.

"I went along one night to see the play and it was sold out," recalls Burrows. "But I read a very excellent review of it, and cut it out and put it on my fridge. I wanted to read the play and maybe even approach the playwright about taking it to London or something. I'd never really done that before."

Eighteen months later, Burrows is thankful that she was thwarted in her best efforts to see the show -- now that she is starring in the lead role of Jane, a widowed single mother on the precipice of middle age, in the Los Angeles premiere of This, now in previews at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. "It's kind of great that I didn't see it," she says, with a laugh.

For this production, the show's original director, Daniel Aukin, is back on board, as are three of the original five cast members: Eisa Davis and Darren Pettie as married couple Marrell and Tom, and Glenn Fitzgerald as the acerbically gay Alan. The sole other newcomer in the cast is Gilles Marini (known for his work in the Sex and the City film and TV's Brothers & Sisters) as the charismatic doctor, Jean-Pierre.

"It's a testament to how fantastic they are that they have made it incredibly easy," she says of her castmates. "The show is really well cast, and they are obviously all really talented. I can't imagine anyone playing those roles except them."

As it happens, having two new actors in such an intimately sized cast didn't dissuade the others from looking at their characters -- and the story -- with new eyes. "Everyone's been rediscovering their roles," Burrows explains." I think they would all say that if you interviewed them. They've all been free to rediscover things and find things. Obviously, the things that worked, stick. But there are things they want to try and develop because they've developed as people. One of the actors said to me, 'I'm a year older, and things shift in terms of your interpretation of something. Because your life has changed, your playing of the role changes.'"

Burrows is especially grateful for the support and guidance she's received from Aukin. "He's precise and clear and very gifted," she says. "We come from the same part of London, which is rather sweet. We both left England at a certain age and came to America. We have that in common. I think he's got a rare talent and I'd love to work with him in the future."