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DanSchwent

Dantastic Book Reviews

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Mr. Burns, a post-electric play

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play - Anne Washburn

In the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse, can memories of The Simpsons pull people together?

My lady and I saw this play performed last night and now I shall seek out the book so I can better process and pick apart what we witnessed.

The first act of the play takes place just after the apocalypse. There is no electricity and a small group of survivors amuses themselves by reminiscing about the Cape Fear episode of the Simpsons. A stranger shows up and is eventually accepted into their group. This was by far the best act of the play. It was really intense and made me forget I just shelled out $50.

The second act takes place seven years after the first. The effects of the apocalypse are still being felt. Travelling groups of actors perform episodes of the Simpsons in front of live audiences, painstakingly reconstructing the episodes from people's vague memories. This act wasn't as good as the first but I still dug it once I pieced together what was going on.

The third act takes place 75 years after the second. I suspect it is supposed to show how the Cape Fear episode of the Simpsons mutated after being retold for almost a century but I kept thinking about Robert Chambers' The King in Yellow. It was so bizarre I hoped I remembered how to drive when the act was over. I looked at my gf a few times and mouthed "This is so fucked up." Mr. Burns and Itchy and Scratchy terrorize the Simpsons on a houseboat. When a bosomy woman playing Lisa Simpsons gets groped by a demonic Mr. Burns, you don't easily forget it.

So, yeah, if Mr. Burns comes to your town, I recommend seeing it for the WTF factor of the third act alone. It wasn't my favorite play but it's definitely etched into my brain. 3.5 out of 5 stars.