Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play

Outside the March enlightens audiences with unplugged production of Mr. Burns

Presented by Outside The March in association with Crow's Theatre and Starvox Entertainment
Written by Anne Washburn
Score by Michael Friedman
Lyrics by Anne Washburn
Directed by Simon Bloom and Mitchell Cushman
Musical direction by Britta Johnson

L - R: Colin Doyle, Amy Keating, Rielle Braid and Katherine Cullen. Photo by David Leyes.

Fans of the long-running animated series The Simpsons were disappointed to learn that Harry Shearer, who lends his voice to a number of key characters, including Mr. Burns, is leaving the show according to recent reports. This news signals the end of an era for a generation raised on the funny catch phrases and plotlines that have made the iconic American satire so popular. However, if Outside the March's current production of Anne Washburn's dark comedy Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play is any indication, our culture will be influenced by the beloved cartoon family for many years to come.

Set in the aftermath of a global nuclear disaster, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play follows a group of survivors who band together in search of food, shelter and the most precious resource of all—classic lines from The Simpsons. Now playing at the Aztec Theatre in Toronto's east end, Outside the March's imaginative production is staged entirely without on-the-grid electricity and features live music and foley by James Smith. Ken MacKenzie's whimsical set transforms the venue into a post-apocalypic wasteland littered with missing person signs and chirping with the sound of live crickets.

Act one introduces us to Matt/Homer (Colin Doyle), Jenny/Edna (Tracy Michailidis), Maria/Marge (Katherine Cullen), Sam/Scratchy (Sabastien Heins), Gibson/Itchy (Damien Atkins), Colleen/Lisa (Amy Keating) and Quincy/Bart (Rielle Braid) as they recall and retell the "Cape Feare" episode of The Simpsons in hilarious detail. Many will recognize this as the one where Sideshow Bob attempts to kill Bart in a spoof of the 1962 movie Cape Fear. The story ends with Sideshow Bob cornering Bart on a houseboat. Bart stalls Bob by asking him to sing the entire score of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore as the boat slowly drifts closer to Springfield. Reminded of this scene, Atkins' character Gibson performs a lively rendition of "Three Little Maids from School Are We," providing the group with an entertaining and welcome distraction from their uncertain future.

Act two begins seven years later: the survivors are now touring as a theatre troupe performing stitched-together Simpsons episodes (complete with advertisements) in a competitive world where references to the show have become currency. Fast forward another 75 years to act three, and we happen upon a future society shaped by the mythology surrounding the fictional family. Years of "broken telephone" have distorted the characters and the plot of the episode in question, and an epic battle between Bart and the evil Mr. Burns ensues. The action is played out in a colourful musical finale featuring a larger than life Mr. Burns puppet with creepy yellow fingers and glowing red eyes.

The show includes two intermissions and has a run time of two hours and 45 minutes, but the material is so engrossing you will hardly notice the length. Part disturbing contemporary allegory, part Simpsons celebration, Washburn's script is smart, funny and remarkably touching. Directors Simon Bloom and Mitchell Cushman get strong performances out of the cast, all of whom sing, dance and contribute brilliantly to the overall flow of this organically fuelled production.

Outside the March's Mr. Burns is, in a word, "excellent." Don't miss it!

Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play runs until June 7 at the Aztec Theatre (1035 Gerrard Street East). Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Sat, 2015-05-09 - Sun, 2015-06-07
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