Sneak Preview Review: MR. BURNS

by Lynn on May 14, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Historic Aztec Theatre 1035 Gerrard St. E., Toronto, Ont.

Written by Anne Washburn
Score by Michael Friedman
Lyrics by Anne Washburn
Co-directed by Simon Bloom and Mitchell Cushman
Set by Ken Mackenzie
Costumes by Lindsay Junkin
Lighting design by Nick Blais
Sound by Samuel Sholdice
Puppet design by Marcus Jamin
Starring: Damien Atkins
Rielle Braid
Ishai Buchbinder
Katherine Cullen
Colin Doyle
Sébastien Heins
Amy Keating
Tracy Michaelidis

A production done without electricity that is often electrifying and always intriguing and provocative because of its dazzling imagination.

Mr. Burns is an epic three act play that is huge in scope as is this eye-popping production created by Outside the March, perhaps Toronto’s most inventive, daring theatre company working today.

Imagine it—a post-apocalyptic world without electricity. A group of survivors light their way with flashlights scavenging for food. They pass the time reliving better times, namely retelling each other the minutiae of the dialogue and details of an episode of The Simpsons. The joy in the telling is palpable until reality appears in the form of a stranger, another survivor. The group is desperate to know about loved ones who lived far way might have survived. The stranger would know.

Act II is seven years later when those survivors are now re-creating those Simpson’s episodes. They are not alone in this endeavour, so competition and money muddies the waters.

Act III is seventy-five years later with references to two towers being destroyed and shafts of light taking their place. The tone becomes chilling as a real evil appears—Mr. Burns.

Do you need to know about The Simpsons to get the references? No, Anne Washburn is too smart a playwright to keep part of her audience in the dark. The references are subtly explained. Those who know the difference between ‘d’oh’ and ‘duh’ will ‘get it’ in a different way. What is not in question is the pure dazzle of the imagination of co-directors Simon Bloom and Mitchell Cushman and their creative team. They are producing this piece of theatre without electricity. The stage is illuminated with flashlights and the audience’s imagination. At times the creativity is breathtaking. There are scenes of poignant emotion when a community is created and embraced. It’s certainly made me curious about this phenomenon known as The Simpsons. D’oh.

Full review of Mr. Burns on Friday, May 15 on CIUT FRIDAY MORNING, 89.5 fm. From 9 am to 10 am. I will also be interviewing Simon Bloom, Mitchell Cushman and Amy Keating.

It’s already held over to June 7.


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