You know what, I'm going to put it out there, call me a maverick if you will, call me crazy, go ahead. I like the Simpsons. Yep, there you go. That's it, the confession of the year. Start throwing your stones, I just don't go in for the mainstream, what can I say? Innit. Everyone loves The Simpsons don't they, find me someone who doesn't. So in the lead up to this show I predictably found myself texting carefully selected quotes to my pals (“hello, my name is Mr Burns, I believe you have a letter for me”, “Alright Mr Burns what’s your first name?”, “….I don’t know”), to which I would almost always receive a lightning flash response ("They're fighting like Iran and Iraq!", "What?", "...Persia and Mesopotamia") I should also mention that I never called this show ‘Mr Burns’, always ‘Mr Boo-urns’ (“I was saying Boo-urns”).
So, with all that in mind, Anne Washburn's depiction of a post-apocalyptic world where The Simpsons becomes shared conversational fodder around a campfire doesn't seem like the most far-fetched situation. Indeed the beauty of Washburn’s script is its recognition of this near ubiquitous knowledge of Springfield and its hilarious inhabitants, and the manner in which it becomes inevitably misquoted and corrupted over time. Washburn’s script is such a little flirt; it keeps you gagging for those classic moments, forever yanking them away at the last minute. The action tiptoes on the precipice of hilarity with a seething underbelly of unease and uncertainty and the tension comes from what isn’t revealed as quotes become intellectual property to be violently bartered. Mr Burns shrugs off traditional structure, opting for three acts and two intervals; a unsettling but welcome change which shakes up the typical experience; whilst also allowing you valuable extra time to discuss what the hell just happened. However, the palpable tension and mystery of the first two acts is spoiled by the third; which lays it on just a bit too thick. Whilst being suitably disorientating and removed, depicting a post-apocalyptic future shrouded in corrupt oral tradition (mash-up Britney, Eminem, The Simpsons and elaborate ritual ceremony and you’re about half way there), it’s all just a bit much. Whilst an elucidating, explanatory third act would be inappropriate, this tribal, post-apocalyptic Simpsons-centric civilisation veers a little too much towards cliché. Chilling, innovative but clumsily concluded, it’s definitely worth catching; but after veering towards a 4 I'm it’s going to have to be a 3. [3/5]