Mr. Burns: a pop-fueled villain

I have been highly involved in the theater world since my freshman year of high school, starting with the show 39 Steps. At school, I have worked on many shows, ranging from full-scale musicals, to those in which the entire plot takes place on your phone. However, I have never seen or worked on a show quite like Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play.

The show has three acts that are set approximately seven months, seven years, and then 75 years after a worldwide nuclear-power-based catastrophe. Between each act, the audience was requested to leave for major set changes. When we came back, it was like we were attending a completely different show, since the sets varied from a campfire, a theater, to some sort of religious place. Even with vastly different sets, the show held together.

Mr. Burns was filled with self-referential and allusive humor, drawing laughs from the audience consistently. Throughout the show, references were made to the Simpsons episode “Cape Fear,’ with the descending four-tone run acting as a sort of theme for the show. Even the soundtrack was hilarious, including songs ranging from “Three Little Maids From School Are We” from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “The Mikado,” to “Toxic,” by Britney Spears.

Coming into the show, I already knew that it had a fair bit of Simpsons-related humor, but I was still surprised by how much the show created a believable depiction of what pop culture could become in that sort of dystopian, post apocalyptic future. The actors played the characters’ story progressions, from the Bart who turned from the ruffian he is on the TV show today to a sort of folk hero, to the Mr. Burns/Sideshow Bob hybrid who turned into a sort of pop-music fueled villain.