Opening night: Darien High's Theatre 308 presents Mr. Burns, a post-electric play
“Mr. Burns, a post-electric play” is a play unlike any other Theatre 308 production. Beginning this Thursday, the Theatre 308 cast will bring to life a dark comedy focusing on the Simpsons and the world after an apocalypse.
Written by Anne Washburn and directed by Darien High School’s Andrew Rejan, the play includes music by Michael Freidman, but is not a musical. It is has both comedic and intensely dramatic moments while evolving into a pop-opera. DHS student Grady Allen, playing Mr. Burns, said it best: “you have to have an open mind.”
“Mr. Burns” opens with a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world after a nuclear meltdown. These few survivors cope with the disaster through storytelling, more specifically, through reminiscing about Simpsons episodes. The group can only use their memories to retell stories since electricity has not been restored, thus the “post-electric” in the title. As the play progresses, time elapses and the storytelling amongst the group evolves into the recreation of the theater. The post-apocalyptic mindset based on the fight for survival seeps into the work of the survivor group turned theater troupe recreating an episode of the Simpsons titled “Cape Fear.”
The 308 production is split between the world of the post-apocalyptic theater troupe and the troupes own production of the Simpsons. The cast plays both the survivors and the famous cartoon characters.
“We are not playing the Simpsons as we see them today, but as elevated archetypes of the Simpsons,” said musical director and actress Evelyn Sload. The funny and satirical style the Simpsons is known for meets life after an apocalypse. While maintaining a strong grip on pop culture from the past, the survivors are also creating a culture of their own. The result is a dramatic pop-opera, fully utilizing light technicians and set designers, reflective of their post-apocalyptic experiences. Larson Klein, playing both Jenny and Selma, said “I was surprised when I heard we were doing a pop-opera, I thought it was a comedy. But as we read the script, it had more layers and turned out to be more dramatic.”
Director Andrew Rejan summarized the play as being “about storytelling and the way people entertain themselves and make meaning of their lives through stories even through the darkest time.” Jumbling and twisting together pop culture commentary, the tenacity of the human spirit in light of tragedy, and the strange ways entertainment evolves with history, “Mr. Burns” touches on multiple sides of the human experience.
Performances begin this Thursday, Nov. 16 and run through Friday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Darien High School Auditorium. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at seatyourself.biz/theatre308 or at the door before the show.