THEATRE – Mr Burns: A Post Electric Play – State Theatre and Belvoir – The Space – 4K

Image by Tony Lewis

Image by Tony Lewis

By Peter Maddern

While a healthy obsession for The Simpsons would be useful going into The Space, a stream of cultural references is not the ambition of Anne Washburn’s play. Rather, it is an examination of where the stories and yarns and memories of our generation would come from should the apocalypse come tomorrow.

Set over three acts, the first takes us to some place in New England where seemingly frivolous recountings of the Simpson’s Cape Fear episode are mixed with the depth of despair that the surrounding reality now grips them with; strangers need to be searched, people are dying in thousands in various random and not so random places across the US and heavily armed gangs can intrude on whatever peace is created at a moment’s notice.

Seven years on in the following act and it seems all original thought has been outsourced to brokers and yet more use of these memories and snatches of a happier past. Finally, seventy years then hence and we have a world that morphs Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore with Monty Burns and all the Springfield clan (or is this Titantic safely on land?)

unspecifiedIt’s loud, it’s funny and it’s clever with director Imara Savage skilfully negotiating each of Washburn’s worlds without sending the whole into the chaos that lurks beyond. She is aided by Mitchell Butel’s supreme Mr Burns that mixes evil and camp all clad in a suit that resembles polished sludge. Brent Hill shines as Matt in the opening scene around the campfire while Esther Hannaford’s Bart contains all his elements of good and bad even if the female form seems a bit of a stretch.

Bold and ambitious and not for anything but a skilled cast and crew Mr Burns: A Post Electric Play poses useful questions about the impact of current pop culture and it’s comparisons with stories that have been previously fed to our generations. The more one is in in tune with such shows and referencing the more this will delight.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

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