It is rare that you get to mix two of my favorite things together, like peanut butter and chocolate, to make something really delicious to consume. For fans of theater and “The Simpsons,” we have something really incredible that is landing on stage at Grand Rapids’ Actors’ Theatre.
On September 29, one of the most talked about plays from our last decade, “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play” by Anne Washburn, will make its West Michigan premiere on Grand Rapids Community College’s Spectrum Stage.
Washburn’s “Mr. Burns” begins as a group of individuals are in the woods, attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where all the power has been cut off due to a world-wide atomic plant meltdown in which every facility is taken offline, plummeting the earth into a post-electric era.
This first act of a three-act play, is devoted to these survivors’ favorite activity: recreating stories of the famous but now permanently dark “The Simpsons.”
To this cast of storytellers, one particular episode, “Cape Feare,” remains a stand out and becomes the thread that will take us forward to act two, which takes place seven years later.
During this act, the group members have formalized their love of this episode and are creating a theatrical group charged with telling this and other nostalgic-rich stories for a generation now emerging without the knowledge of what was “The Simpsons.”
By the time we get to act three, the audience has been transported 75 years in the future — a full two generations later — and a new mythological society has emerged based on the culture born out of our present.
“Mr. Burns” is unlike anything we have seen on stage locally and represents one of the best arguments for more story-telling set just a few moments into our future.
If you enjoyed the dystopian humor and insights of “The Simpsons,” then “Mr. Burns” is just the play for you, as Washburn presents an unflinching look at human creativity and our life wedded to present pop culture.
The first two acts make for a wonderfully rich springboard into Washburn’s future, where her plausible narrative of what could lie ahead for a society without electricity — a place where digital domains would be left buried like the tomb writings in Egypt — is not so far-fetched under her pen.
Again, “Mr. Burns” is not your parents’ theatre. And lucky are we for it.
Admission: $28, adult; $22, senior/student; $10 student rush (available one hour before performance)