Theater: ‘Mr. Burns’ brings ‘The Simpsons’ to the stage

Do these faces look somewhat familiar? Credit: Joan Marcus
Do these faces look somewhat familiar?
Credit: Joan Marcus

If you’re looking for a theatrical fix of “The Simpsons,” you might try Anne Washburn’s “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play” at Playwrights Horizons. But be careful what you wish for. Pre-electric may be more up your alley.

“Mr. Burns” begins with five refugees from some sort of cataclysmic event huddled in front of a fire, sitting on furniture ranging from a small loveseat to a lawn chair. At one point they characterize towns and cities (“Boston is a mess.” “Providence is deserted.”) and inquire about individuals.

But mostly they try to piece together the plot and dialogue from “The Simpsons” episode modeled on the movie Cape Fear, in which Sideshow Bob wants to kill Bart. The group’s attempt to reconstruct a television show, while the world is literally crumbling around them, is surprisingly engaging. It works because of its two levels: the humor of “The Simpsons” episode and the characters’ escapist involvement in it.

But then things go downhill. Seven years later the same characters are rehearsing a play, which seems somehow essential to their postapocalyptic survival. “The Simpsons” briefly creeps in again, but the immediacy of the first act is gone. Imitating the Simpsons is less compelling than discussing them. How can mere mortals compete with the real thing? The cartoon’s absence is even more acute in Act III, 75 years later, when the entire cast is in half-face performing a “Simpsons” operetta.

There’s an absurdist playfulness to “Mr. Burns” that’s appealing. But while the laughs continue, they diminish as the play progresses. The take-away is simple: you can’t trump “The Simpsons.”

If you go

‘Mr. Burns, a post-electric play’
Through Oct. 6
Playwrights Horizons,
416 West 42nd St.
Starting at $70,
www.playwrightshorizons.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…