Drama Shop play delights audience

staff writer

“Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play,” by Ann Washburn, caught the attention of crowds of local theater-goers in recent weeks at Drama Shop, located in the Renaissance Center off State Street.
The play is an interesting dystopian take on the future where a group of apocalypse survivors remembering an episode of “The Simpsons” becomes the mythos of the distant future.
The characters in “Mr. Burns” are not grandiose, distant or unrelatable characters. Rather, they are real people with real emotions.
Their happiness in dark times was palpable through the excited storytelling.
The anxiety of a character was felt as she rambles through a story while playing solitaire.
The audience jumped with the characters at a sudden sound that could mean the end of their lives.
The audience easily got caught up in these instances, relating to the characters and feeling the same as they do.
Watching and listening to the dialogue between characters felt like listening in on a real conversation, rather than watching someone act it out on a stage.
The audience quickly grew attached to these characters, allowing them to forget about their own personal worries and focus on the desires of the characters.
These characters worked exceptionally well with the minimalistic set design.
“Mr. Burns” is about the story far more than it is about the location, and that was reflected in the set decor.
In the first act, the only set piece was a fake campfire at center stage.
The set pieces in Acts 2 and 3 developed a little more, providing an actual raised stage.
What was necessary was present and all the extra bells and whistles were left off.
Additionally, the intimate-style staging of “Mr. Burns” immersed the audience fully in the plight of the characters.
Whenever characters looked offstage, they were looking at the audience as opposed to looking off into a dark crowd.
It felt more like the audience was participating in the scene than simply watching it.
Despite not always being able to see a character’s face, the audience never lost that sense of realism.
The audience was more like an extension to the group rather than a separate entity.
The setting arrangements supported this feeling as well.
Various chairs and couches pulled around the circle made it feel like the audience was on the outskirts of the group, listening along to the tale of Bart Simpson.
Overall, Drama Shop’s production of “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” was thrilling and successful.
Although it’s a bizarre blend of humor and dystopia, it is startlingly relatable and I would highly recommend it to anyone who might consider seeing it.
Upcoming productions at Drama Shop include “The Clean House” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.” For more information visit dramashop.org.

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