Simpsons provides delightful twist to Shakespeare
MacHomer at North Hagley Park Events Centre, August 25th
I must admit that when told I was going to watch one man perform Shakespeare's Macbeth through the voices of characters from The Simpsons, I was somewhat sceptical. Even if such an unlikely fusion of high art with popular culture proved successful, how was creator/performer Rick Miller going to carry it off alone?
To compound things, we were packed into the oversized igloo that is the North Hagley Events Centre like sardines, and as I jostled elbows with my neighbours I feared this was a night to be endured rather than enjoyed.
I was very happy to be proved wrong.
The show essentially consists of Miller and a giant television which provides backdrops and the occasional character depiction. All props are mimed and the characters are created exclusively by Miller's voice and body, so it's fair to say a lot relies on him. He doesn't disappoint, bounding seamlessly and with great vigour through a host of our favourite Springfield inmates. His flawless impersonations are the production's highlight, and to call him dynamic doesn't do him justice.
While Miller coerced plenty of chuckles from the audience throughout the show's two hour duration, I didn't notice tears running down faces or people falling off chairs. His brand of humour is distinctly American (although he's Canadian), and this may not have gone down quite as well with a Kiwi audience as it would have overseas. He also recycled many classic Simpsons gags, which wore pretty thin by the end.
Some of the play's funniest moments came when he played on the original text, inserting pop culture references or snide remarks from the characters pointing out its flaws. Although he takes many liberties with the script, this is the show's beauty. Miller proves that Shakespeare can be fun, that we can play with it as well as revere it.
You get the sense Miller really loves Shakespeare, and while The Bard can seem daunting, MacHomer is an excellent, highly entertaining way of making one of his greatest tragedies accessible.