Review: ‘Mr. Burns: The Post Electric Play’ at City Theatre

Mr. Burns: The Post Electric Play: Thu 7:30pm, Fri 7:30pm, Sat 2pm & 7:30pm, Sun 2pm; Through 3/15; $10-$18; Sacramento City College, Art Court Theatre, 3835 Freeport Blvd.; (916) 558-2228;
Rated 4.0

UPDATE: Due to new public health guidance on the coronavirus outbreak, the March 12-15 performances have been canceled. The theater says all tickets purchased online will be automatically refunded.

Sometimes the timing of theater productions eerily mirrors emerging issues in society. Such is the case with City Theater’s Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play being staged as the coronavirus uncertainty is sweeping the globe.

Mr. Burns is a quirky dystopian comedy in three acts, all centered around survivors of a nuclear disaster that wipes out most of the population and modern technology. It opens with a small group who manage to find each other and are in survival mode, with no communication from the outside world and no trust in their government.

But what makes Mr. Burns so unique is that the entire play has elements of The Simpsons animated sitcom. The first act is post-disaster, with survivors entertaining themselves recreating Simpsons episodes. Act Two is seven years later, with attempts to reconstruct society, and Act Three is presented as an operatic story of The Simpsons, who have now become mystical figures. There are times when the play lacks logic, but it makes up for it in its creative approach.

City Theater is staging Mr. Burns in its intimate Art Court Theater, which adds to the feeling of being one with this post-disaster. It’s a collective cast who are clearly having fun. It’s not essential to be familiar with The Simpsons, but it helps.

The set is appropriately minimalistic—mostly a bare stage with a couple old chairs and a sofa with a fun appearance of Simpsons cartoon props.