Regional Reviews: St. Louis
The only thing missing from a tour de force like MacHomer is at least one moment of breathless exhaustion from its "man of a thousand voices," Rick Miller. As it is, he zooms through The Simpsons' re-telling of the tragedy of MacBeth in about an hour and twelve minutes with barely a sign of stress or fatigue, for delighted fans of Matt Groening's cartoon family. We run into just about every resident of TV's town of Springfield in the misty moors of Scotland along the way.
Perhaps with this in mind, Mr. Miller, who plays all the parts in Shakespeare's tale, adds an encore where he pretty nearly reaches the point of collapse (I think) singing Bohemian Rhapsody in the voices of a score or more famous singers and bands. Only then can we at least imagine him hanging on the ropes of the performance arena, though it may be just our imagining. Such kamikaze moments give us the possibility for the "thrill of victory" or "the agony of defeat."
We catch a glimpse of strain at mid-point, after a delirious recapping of MacHomer's first half, when Miller can be seen in a darkened theatre, in silhouette, quickly gulping from a bottle of water. Immediately, the action starts again. Like a Las Vegas card dealer, he deftly scatters about fifty-five characters around the stage, with the help of a huge TV screen, to flash an image of each Simpsons creation up for the audience, or to set the scene, or even to show a brief episode of Itchy And Scratchy ("Send In The Crowns") with the usual gory results.
Directed with a flair for movement and comical flourishes by Sean Lynch, MacHomer amounts to something like a convention of adoring fans of all ages, and of course helps to introduce many young people to the theatre. While I am filled with admiration for Mr. Miller's performance, it should be noted that his central character, Homer J. Simpson (as MacHomer), proves to be one of the more elusive voices he assays. That said, his Marge Simpson drew in instant ovation when she appeared (as Lady MacHomer, of course). Marge proves to be a formidable presence, urging her husband to the throne.
High points also include MacHomer's vision of a dagger (that keeps turning itself into a delicious slice of pizza before him); steady intrusions by Actor Troy McClure (as various noblemen of Scotland) and the redoubtable Ned Flanders as MacHomer's arch nemesis, MacDuff. Delightful impressions also include the voices of Professor Frink, Otto the bus-driver, and token Scotsmen Groundskeeper Willie and Sean Connery. Krusty the Clown makes a welcome appearance as the comical drunken porter and Arnold Schwarzenegger manqué "McBain" lays out the prophesy of MacHomer's eventual demise.
Also appearing courtesy of Mr. Miller are Bart Simpson (age 10) as Fleance, and Lisa Simpson (age 8) as a disgruntled nobelwoman. C. Montgomery Burns portrays King Duncan, with Waylon Smithers as his "son," Malcolm. This show is warmly recommended for Simpsons fans.
MacHomer's appearance in St. Louis concludes a five-month tour. Consult the website for more information, at www.MacHomer.com.