By Claire DeMarco
When six people come through an epic disaster one might surmise that after the initial shock of this traumatic event, they’d begin to organize and search for means of survival. Instead, Matt (David Holderbaum), Jenny (Myah E. Davis), Maria (Johnna Lefebvre), Sam (Alex Blair), Colleen (Sarah Orbin), Gibson (Gavin Calgaro) and Quincy (Elizabeth Glyptis) reflect on what appears to be an inconsequential recollection from their pre-disastrous world. They pull the memory of the episode Cape Fear from “The Simpsons.” It becomes a means to cope with what has just happened to them.
As time goes on the group’s oral stories and recollections about the Cape Feare episode are embellished with situations that didn’t occur. The episode morphs into something it never was originally. Bart (Lauren Connolly), Homer (Mark Barrett), Marge (Sarah Yobbi), and Lisa (Audrey Wells), are part of this evolution as are Itchy (Eric Molina) and Scratchy (Michael Phelps). Mr. Burns (Noah Kendall), the man who caused the 2024 event plays the villain in this exaggerated opera. Over 70 years are involved in the growth and development of this grandiose idea.
A kernel from the past becomes the genesis for the development of an opera and a theater that concentrates on many of the Simpson episodes.
Out of the darkness. And then there was light!
Note: In the program Critic Laura Collins-Hughes relates her experience after seeing this play. “It’s the kind of bold, inventive show that sends you staggering out onto the street afterward, stunned and exhilarated, not sure quite what you’ve just experienced because you’ve never seen its likes before”.
Note: I must confess even though I did not stagger onto the street afterward, stunned and exhilarated, I also wasn’t sure at times what I had experienced. But that’s not a problem. It’s important that theater not only entertain but challenge us with new and exciting presentations and this production certainly meets that expectation.
Holderbaum presents his character initially at the beginning of the play as exuberant, quasi-hysterical and constantly in motion as he concentrates on memories of the Cape Feare episode of “The Simpsons”. This is his mechanism for dealing with the tragedy that just recently occurred. Time passes and he transitions into a calmer, more rational character as he and the group continue their concentration on “The Simpsons”.
Calgaro is excellent in portraying two sides of his character. After the tragedy event Calgaro’s coping mechanism is a constant shaking of his legs and a hesitant, soft voice. He has difficulty talking about those lost. As the years pass, he appears to have more control but he occasionally reverts to shaking his legs. At one point he has a complete breakdown.
Although Kendall is only in the last act of the play, he makes his presence known. He’s enticing as the evil, snarky and obnoxious Mr. Burns. His twisted facial expressions and physical movements are spot on as he prances across the stage. He sings, he dances, he does a little rap. He does it all!
The entire cast is well balanced!
The set is minimal. Initially a plaid sofa, several mismatched folding chairs and a trash can suggesting a fire for warmth indicate the dire circumstances of the group.
Later the plaid sofa is replaced by an over-stuffed leather chair with a mock TV in front of it.
Costume Designers Barbara Burgess-Lefebrve and Johnna Lefebrve did a great job with the costumes. As time changes so do the costumes colors. Following the tragic event in 2024, costumes were dark and rather non-descript. As the play approaches 2107 the clothing was bright, flashy and colorful.
“Mr. Burns – A Post-Electric Play” runs from November 2 until November 19 at Little Lake Theater, 500 Lakeside Drive, Canonsburg, PA 15301. For more information, click here.