The Simpsons survive the apocalypse in Villanova Theatre's Mr. Burns

Villanova Theatre presents an "Ex-cellent" production of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play

The Simpsons survive the apocalypse in Villanova Theatre's Mr. Burns

Villanova Theatre is proud to present Whiting Award winner Anne Washburn's wildly imaginative Mr. Burns, a post electric play, directed by Jill Harrison and on stage February 6-18, 2018. Set against the backdrop of The Simpsons, this rocking, rollicking musical mythology with score by the late Michael Friedman is "so smart it [will make] your head spin" (The New York Times). In the wake of nuclear threats, wildfires, bomb cyclones, and mudslides, Washburn's armageddon-inspired play feels timelier than ever.

The earth is barren, society has collapsed, and America as we know it has come to an end. Gathered around a fire in the woods, a group of dauntless survivors search for meaning amidst the rubble of the apocalypse. Beginning immediately following a nuclear disaster, our band of heroes gather to find connection, camaraderie, and community by reconstructing the classic Simpsons episode "Cape Feare." Seven years later, the group begins to tour a production of the episode across the mid-west. In a third act of epic proportions, the theatre troupe's legacy erupts into an operatic liturgy that The New York Times says will "leave you dizzy with the scope and dazzle of its ideas." Washburn's dark comedy asks us to consider life beyond smart phones, WiFi, and social media and explores how the popular culture of one era can evolve into the mythology of another.

The Simpsons, America's longest-running sitcom and animated series, has documented and satirized politics and pop culture for over 25 years. Never too afraid to offend its audience, the series' creators have poked fun at America's most polarizing issues - topics ranging from immigration to gun rights, the environment, and feminism. Much like watching an episode of The Simpsons, experiencing Mr. Burns, a post-electric play is both "intoxicating and sobering," (The New York Times) as it artfully pairs the serious with the seriously silly.  According to director Jill Harrison, "this play is extraordinary because it's a terrifying piece of theatre. It begs the question - what hope remains in the face of destruction? How do we hold on to one another when the world falls apart? Can parables and stories continue to uplift the human spirit in the wake of utter devastation?”

Washburn's "fiendishly clever" (Washington Post) play is at once an affectionate tribute to a beloved pop institution, The Simpsons; a vivid illustration of the basic human need for stories; and a metatheatrical masterpiece. Moreover, the piece showcases the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unthinkable tragedy. According to dramaturg Ann Marley, "Today, people feel as though the world is falling apart. Nuclear weapons are a major threat. Strangers cannot be trusted. Natural disasters are destroying cities and countries. According to scientists, we have crossed a threshold of environmental damage that we will never be able to repair. I think many people who see this show will see their worst fears come to life - the destruction of the earth and the disintegration of the human race."

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play runs at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall from February 6-18, 2018. Speaker's Night, immediately following the performance on Thursday, February 15, will feature illuminating insights from the Rev. Anne C. Thatcher, scholar and Associate Rector for The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia (see full biographical information below). Vasey Hall is located on Villanova's main campus at the intersection of Lancaster & Ithan Avenues. Performances will be held Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, MA in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12-5 pm) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at

During the run of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Villanova Theatre will be collecting donations to support ConPRmetidos, an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization operating from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Due to the recent catastrophic damages caused by Hurricane María, nearly half of the island's population is still without power, communications are scarce, and only a small percentage of the population has access to water service.