Is this a dagger I see or a pizza?
by James Leonard
From the June, 2005 issue
MacHomer: it's got everything the original's got and more. It's got regicide, fratricide, infanticide, and suicide all the things you've already come to know and love about Macbeth and it's performed by, arguably, the greatest cast ever assembled. It's got Homer and Marge and Bart and Lisa and Maggie and Mr. Burns and Smithers and Krusty the Clown and Moe the Bartender and Principal Skinner and Jimbo Jones and forty others. And it's got them all together on the same stage coming out of the incredibly flexible Rick Miller.
The result is clever very, very clever. Miller's impersonations of the characters from the long-running cartoon show The Simpsons are uncannily accurate. He's studied their gestures and their expressions, the way they like to phrase a line and the way they like to punctuate their soliloquies with burps or sniggers. He knows how Homer uses his hands, how Barney uses his walk, and how Crusty uses his Yiddish. He laughs like Marge, chuckles like Flanders, cackles like Bart, and sucks a pacifier like Maggie, and, astonishingly, he does all of them one after another through the entire length of the show.
MacHomer is also funny very, very funny. Miller's obvious understanding of the emotional subtleties and dramatic nuances of Shakespeare's tragedy is informed by his antic sense of humor, his anarchistic sense of social responsibility, and his endless willingness to take a pratfall to make a point. His production has touches of whimsy (a Sesame Street puppet show production number for the whole family) and of absurdity (the World Wrestling-style grudge match between Macduff and MacHomer is not for the faint of heart) but overall, the tone is still ironic, irreverent, and deeply ridiculous.
MacHomer is not educational. Miller demands that his audience already be intimately familiar not only with Shakespeare's text but with creator Matt Groening's characters and a whole range of pop culture references. Nor is it philosophical Miller
requires that his audience apprehend and appreciate the manifold ways in which the commingled disparate styles and genres comment on each other in paradoxical if improbable counterpoint.
MacHomer is barely even staged. Alone amid shattered television sets, Miller performs before an enormous video screen projecting his malleable face and morphable form into the farthest corners of the hall. And it's hardly serious. Miller hopes that his audience will unfetter their postmodernist consciousnesses, unbutton their postmillennial anxieties, and unleash their doughnut-obsessed inner children.
MacHomer: it's Rick Miller, and it's at the Power Center on Sunday, June 26, under the auspices of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.
[Originally published in June, 2005.]
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