"Mr. Burns (one of Miller's best impressions) makes a delightfully sinister King Duncan, perpetually-soused Barney is a surprisingly effective Macduff, and Krusty the Clown can't be beat as the drunken porter on guard the night of the king's murder."
—Joff Schmidt, CBC Theatre Reviewer
There's probably a statement about the rapid pace at which we consume and discard pop culture in that the elements of MacHomer which feel most dated aren't the ones that are 400 years old, but those that are less than 25 years old.
That isn't to say that there isn't still much to like in Rick Miller's 1995 one-man comedy. It begins with a great concept - the characters of the long-lived animated comedy The Simpsons, all voiced by creator/performer Miller, perform Shakespeare's tragedy of vaulting ambition, Macbeth. It sounds like a one-note gag, but is executed beautifully by Miller.
Rick Miller in "MacHomer" at M.T.Y.P. (Michael Cooper)
He's a masterful impressionist, and fills the 75-minute show with plenty of smart self-referential gags, swipes at the Bard, and in-jokes for Simpsons fans.
There are inspired bits of "casting" too - Mr. Burns (one of Miller's best impressions) makes a delightfully sinister King Duncan, perpetually-soused Barney is a surprisingly effective Macduff, and Krusty the Clown can't be beat as the drunken porter on guard the night of the king's murder. Unfortunately, one of the few voices Miller doesn't perfectly capture is Homer (who, of course, becomes MacHomer here).
And Miller delivers a stylish multimedia production with MacHomer
. He's backed by animations that capture the look of The Simpsons
to a tee, and help audiences who might be unfamiliar with Macbeth to make sense of the story.
The hitch, though, is that there's little to help those who are less familiar with The Simpsons
. That would've been a small minority of the audience when Miller premiered MacHomer
in the mid-90s (it made its first Winnipeg appearance at the 1996 Fringe Festival).
But performing for a teen crowd at MTYP, it's obvious The Simpsons
, while just past its 500th episode, isn't the cultural force it was in the '90s. It pains me, as someone who watched faithfully for years, to admit it, but it has to be said - The Simpsons
hasn't really been culturally relevant, or even a very good animated comedy, for years. It's long since been surpassed by the comedies it spawned, like Family Guy
and South Park
(and it's telling that a brief Family Guy
reference drew a bigger laugh from Thursday morning's audience than many of The Simpsons
Joff Schmidt, CBC Theatre Reviewer (CBC)
Teen audiences will probably still enjoy Miller's animated (pun intended) comedic performance, his impressive vocal mimicry, and the irreverent take on Shakespeare. But the "old folks" in the audience, like me, who remember The Simpsons' glory years, will get much more out of this show than younger audience members likely will.
I laughed at MacHomer a lot - but a lot more than many of the teens I saw the show with did.