Mr Burns, A Post-Electric Play

  • Our critic's rating:
    Date:
    September 1, 2013

    I have no idea – seriously no idea what the heck is going on here.

    And I will admit up front that I am not an aficionado of The Simpsons. This is a costly fact because the first 30 or so minutes of this play is taken up by an extended reminiscence of a particular episode based on Cape Fear. Now what is chilling about this overly long discussion is that it is around a campfire. At this particular campfire, when a snapped twig is heard, guns are drawn. When the group is joined by a newcomer, we discover that the world has been tossed into a trash heap due to nuclear meltdowns. In a heart stopping moment, the characters pull out their composition notebooks and compare names with the stranger in the hopes that someone they love has been spotted.

    In the second portion of the show, seven years later, we are treated to a re-run of the Simpsons, where Home is granted a new identity and assured that he and his family will be safe on a houseboat in Terror River, including the commercials that end in a shoot out with FBI Agents. This is a world where everything is being bargained for – Diet Coke’s for lithium batteries – even the lines in the show are barter material. And when the conversation drifts off to the health and welfare of people out there, or even the other shows being produced out there, everyone dives in to change the topic.

    In the third act, we watch a full blown musical adaptation of the Simsons vs. Mr. Burns set on a houseboat in Terror River. One by one the rest of the family is dispatched until there is a duel to the death between Bart and Burns with Bart becoming the victor. As the show ends there is a chorus of hope that rises up from everyone, complete with electricity coming back on all over the planet.

    And did I mention that we are treated to all sorts of music – running the gamut from Gilbert and Sullivan to Who Let The Dogs Out.

    While the material defies every brain cell you have, the cast is superb. This is a sold ensemble, and they are clearly having a great romp up there, consequently for most of the time this show is a pleasure to watch. And there are plenty of moments that connect with the audience, but the moments don’t seem to connect to one another in any way. This is a collection of moments, and not a lot more.

    The cast is worth its weight in gold. But this felt like something that a college drama class put together for a night of vanity productions.

    "Downright brilliant."
    Ben Brantley for New York Times

    "A sly and bracing dark comedy."
    Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News

    "Bizarre, funny, bleak, wonderful show."
    Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post

    "One of the smartest and most delightfully original shows to come along in a long while."
    Robert Feldberg for The Record

    "Not always an easy play to follow – let alone enjoy -- but it is likely to be a show that will be very hard for viewers to ever forget."
    Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey

    "The cleverness ... wears thin rather quickly."
    David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter

    "A refreshingly original take on the fast-growing genre of the post-apocalyptic play."
    Marilyn Stasio for Variety

    External links to full reviews from popular press...

    New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - The Record - Newsroom Jersey - The Hollywood Reporter - Variety