The Simpsons v the apocalypse
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.