The Simp­sons v the apoc­a­lypse

The New Zealand Herald - - Entertainment -

Writ­ten by Anne Wash­burn, Mr Burns, a Post-Elec­tric Play is a com­men­tary on broad­stroke themes: the im­mi­nent ar­rival of an apoc­a­lypse, the US’ ob­ses­sion with cap­i­tal­ism and a de­sire to re­mem­ber our sto­ries, mem­o­ries and, ul­ti­mately, cul­ture.

As the long­est-run­ning an­i­mated tele­vi­sion se­ries, it’s per­fect that The Simp­sons en­cap­su­lates the cul­ture of our times. Specif­i­cally, it is the

Cape Feare episode par­o­dy­ing the Martin Scors­ese movie re­make that func­tions as the ma­jor con­ceit of the play.

At two hours and 15 min­utes (in­clud­ing in­ter­val), this is a long play. Strongly nar­ra­tive driven, the open­ing act is per­haps the most suc­cess­ful. Shad­ows loom large and flash­lights sweep into cor­ners as hud­dled sur­vivors strug­gle to re­cite and re­vive mem­o­ries of the episode in the face of a nu­clear dis­as­ter.

Fast for­ward seven years, the same faces, and a few new ones, re­assem­ble for re­hearsal of the same episode. In this world, Diet Coke is traded for lithium bat­ter­ies, ac­tors have guns in pock­ets, lines need to be bought as mem­o­ries grow dis­tant and com­mer­cials feature a mash-up of 90s pop mu­sic ref­er­ences.

Cast stand­outs in­clude Joel Tobeck as Mr Burns and Olivia Ten­net as the di­rec­tor. Quentin War­ren and By­ron Coll are fab­u­lous as Itchy and Scratchy.

In a world that is sup­posed to be about re­turn­ing the­atre to the epi­cen­tre of our hu­man­ity, Oliver Driver’s pro­duc­tion is in­evitably con­sumed by meta-the­atrics — leav­ing lit­tle space for gen­uine awe and fear.

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