Review Roundup: MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY
Who would have thought that The Simpsons would ever make their Broadway debut? Many people did not but Anne Washburn shows that it is definitely their time to shine her play, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play. This dark, out of the box comedy throws us forward about one century and follows a new civilization that is clumsily stumbling into its future...with a little help from Bart Simpson. Mr. Burns is an animated exploration of how the pop culture of one era can slowly but surely evolve into the mythology of another. Anne Washburn's plays have been featured many times, at different festivals. In 2011, her play A Devil at Noon was featured in the Humana Festival of New American Plays and in 2013, her play Sleep Rock Thy Brain was featured in the festival.
Now, lets see what the critics have to say:
Ben Brantley, NYTimes: "This intoxicating and sobering vision of an American future, set during a day-after-tomorrow apocalypse, isn't just some giddy head trip, either. It has depths of feeling to match its breadth of imagination. At the end of Steve Cosson's vertiginous production, which opened on Sunday night atPlaywrights Horizons, you're likely to feel both exhausted and exhilarated from all the layers of time and thought you've traveled through."
Joe Dziemainowicz, NY Daily News: "[In the second act] Jumping ahead seven years, a ragtag theater group reenacts the patched-together "Cape Feare" episode of the cartoon - commercials included. A deadly turn cleverly sets up Act II, which leaps forward 75 years. By that time "Cape Feare" has evolved into an elaborate spectacle with songs, choreography (by Sam Pinkleton), angels, a devil and pageantry. What to say when an animated pop-culture parody assumes do-it-yourself near-religious dimensions? Amen. Or, better, d'oh."
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: "Unfortunately, the cleverness of the ideas in Anne Washburn's truly bizarre comedy wears thin rather quickly. This exploration of the need for storytelling, and the ways in which tales are inevitably altered by the passage of time, quickly gets bogged down in self-conscious artificiality.The play's theme is a common one for the inventive theater company The Civilians (Gone Missing, This Beautiful City), who developed it originally and whose artistic director Steve Cosson has staged the piece."
Robert Feldberg, NorthJersey.com: ""Some of the scenes in "Mr. Burns" are a touch too long, but in the presence of such stimulating theater, that's a tiny quibble."
Matt Windman, amNewYork: "Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play" is essentially a thesis statement on the storytelling tradition and how pop culture can morph into legend over the course of time. It is thought-provoking and imaginative but, by the same token, tedious, heavy-handed and unapologetically creepy."
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: "It may be entirely logical that the theater of the future should function like the ceremonial theater of ancient times, as the religious altar where high priests lead the congregation in sacramental worship of mythic gods and their holy words. (Rock concerts and sci-fi conventions are nothing if not religious ceremonies.) But Washburn promised much, much more and settled for a song and dance."