I had always thought it would be Shakespeare’s works that survived the dreaded apocalypse. But in Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play, it’s the hit TV show The Simpson’s that the survivors cling to for entertainment and solace; a reminder of a time before things went awry. Launching the University Players’ 60th season, Mr. Burns is absolutely not to be missed.
After a nuclear apocalypse wipes out a good portion of the United States, we meet a group of survivors who, when not looking for missing family and friends, entertain one another by recounting episodes of The Simpson’s. Bringing some light to their dark and dangerous surroundings, the group easily bonds over the familiar stories and characters. As time goes on, the Simpson’s characters and their stories become in demand for an even wider audience. By the end of the play, the group is using the beloved characters to help tell their own story of survival. It’s an exceptionally well written piece and is masterfully directed by Lezlie Wade.
Mr. Burns features a stellar cast of artists who each take on several roles to bring the text life. Shayla Hudson, Rebecca Lashmar, Matt Maddison, and Sean Sennett play the beloved Simpsons family, while Brady Masden takes on the titular role of Mr. Burns. Serena Paesano, Shannon Pitre, and Olivia Redpath round out the talented cast playing several other beloved Simpson’s characters. I enjoyed how their Simpson’s counterparts were often the exact opposite of their previous characters; showcasing the vast range of expertise present on the stage. Add to that the amazing singing performances given in the final act; I was truly impressed.
The on stage band for the third act was comprised of Sam Poole and Alex Aidera-Leite, whose musical talent was a great match for the actors they were accompanying. It was such a unified audio and visual experience, with the set and costumes completing the image and immersing the audience in this dystopian possible future.
You can catch Mr. Burns again this weekend, starting on Wednesday and running through till Sunday afternoon. You can buy tickets at the Box Office in Essex Hall, or by visiting http://www.UniversityPlayers.com
Poster obtained from https://www.facebook.com/events/718134465192549/?ti=icl