David’s Friend
A new show written and performed by Nora Burns debuts at LaMama in New York City
by Alina Oswald

Photo by Rebecca Black
Photo by Rebecca Black

Growing older might or might not be a privilege, but it surely offers us the chance to take a longer glance in the rearview mirror of our lives and, with that, reflect on our past and our accomplishments. Growing older also brings into focus our own mortality, and, with that, our desire to pass on the torch to a younger generation and teach the youth about our past, in an effort to keep its memory alive.

These are only a few of the ideas brought to life in Nora Burns’ new show, David’s Friend. Burns is a New York writer and performer, known for “doing whacky gay sketch comedy (for lack of a better term),” she says, in particular after starting losing friends to HIV and AIDS. The past that comes alive in Burns’ show is that of a New York City scene and its dramatic and devastating transformation as the early years of AIDS start leaving their mark on the city and its residents.

Written and performed by Nora Burns, David’s Friend is a one-woman show debuting on Friday, January 27 and runs through February 5 at LaMama, The Club, in New York City. It is directed by Adrienne Truscott with dramaturgy by Lucy Sexton. Described as “a powerful new comic memoir,” David’s Friend follows the true story of two friends—Nora Burns and her friend, David—from the time they meet as teenagers, to their move to New York City right before the beginning of the epidemic, and their lives in the city during the eighties, defined by “love, loss, cruising, disco, drag queens, strippers, sex, [and] AIDS.”

Photo by Eric McNatt
Photo by Eric McNatt

Burns uses humor to tell this particular AIDS story, the story of her friend, David, who lost his battle with the virus in 1993. She chooses comedy because, she says, comedy humanizes a certain something inside of us, makes us more human. “It’s a show, not a documentary, not a memorial,” she emphasizes, commenting on David’s Friend. It’s a show that helps her tell the present generation the story of her “unfinished friendship” with her best friend, David.


Find out more about Nora Burns and her new show, David’s Friend, by visiting http://lamama.org/davids_friend.


Alina Oswald is Arts Editor of A&U.