Boston College Contemporary Theater recorded America’s favorite animated sitcom, The simpsons and added a bit of creativity and dark humor, making it a well-developed commentary on the development of society and entertainment.
Mr. Burns, a post-electric piece, directed by Molly Caballero, LSEHD ’24 is divided into three acts, each set in a different time period. While the cast remains the same, their characters change over the course of various time jumps, emphasizing the shift in what entertainment means to society.
The first act features a ragtag group of survivors who have just escaped some kind of apocalyptic nuclear fallout. The actors spend much of the first act trying to tell a Simpsons Episode titled “Cape Feare”. They don’t quite get the details, but the cast provides some laughs with their over-the-top hand gestures and re-enactments of the episode’s best moments.
Again and again, the characters are drawn away from the humor and lightness of the screenplay due to the trauma they experienced before the crime.
The act takes place around a campfire with realistic sound effects and a tent sufficient to convince the audience that they are in the forest. Staged on the roof terrace of the McMullen Museum of Art, the first act immerses the audience in the post-apocalyptic world.
The following two acts continue to take audiences on a tour of McMullen, as the show’s second act takes place in the back gallery and the third act is performed outside on the back patio.
In all settings, the lighting is crucial to the plot. Reds light up the room to signify death’s presence, while lighter blues and yellows appear in scenes that are more lightheartedly comedic.
Act Two shows the rag tag group seven years later as the group is now a family unit performing productions of The simpsons make a living, but the characters ironically still have to deal with copyright infringement. In a world where society has collapsed, entertainment and creative disputes survive and thrive.
The second act comes into its own when the group spins “commercials” or little comedic gags with dance and song numbers. They finally try to emulate real television so the jokes and well put together jingles aren’t wasted on the audience. But, laughs aside, serious debates about the murderous evolution of the entertainment industry are pulling the characters away.
This act juxtaposes society’s greed with people’s collective desire for entertainment, leading the audience to ask: Can society’s emotional weight pull something as light and pointless as down? The simpsons?
The third act continues 75 years later with a final performance of the episode “Cape Feare”. This rendition of the episode differs drastically from the version in acts one and two. Elements of act one’s nuclear fallout and act two’s seriousness combine in a musical drama as Bart Simpson fights for his life. Major plot points in the episode are changed to create a similar narrative with a completely different ending.
This final spectacle is undoubtedly entertaining. It comments on how the entertainment industry has taken real-world trauma and desensitized audiences to the actual experience by condensing it into a single episode The simpsons. In the play, the weight of the social trauma seen in the first act contaminates this retelling The simpsons in a way that critically alters the material.
in the Mr. Burns, a post-electric piece, Art is a medium for the expression of pain and individuality, reflecting the weight of society’s problems. Blended with some irony and dark humor, the piece sums up what it means to appreciate art and understand its true purpose.