Sunday, January 29, 2006

Rick Miller's MacHomer

I caught MacHomer at the Roda Theatre in Berkeley on Thursday night. This frantic & wacky one-man show presents Macbeth as done in the voices of the Simpsons cartoon characters. It assumes equal familiarity with both the Simpsons & Shakespeare. Rick Miller does an impressive job mimicking all the characters as well as other celebrities, switching from one voice to another in rapid fire. The show never stops coming at you for 70 minutes. I was starting to feel sorry for the performer; he had so much to do. During the final musical number, he apologized to the audience for dropping out briefly to cough.

The show is never unfaithful to any of the Simpsons characters. It feels like it could be animated as a Simpsons episode with no problems. In fact, there have been episodes where the Simpsons are historical characters & even Shakespearean characters, & I wondered if these episodes were actually inspired by this show.

The melding of the Simpsons with Shakespeare is spot-on: "Is this a dagger I see before me? Or a pizza? Mmmm, pizza..." Early on, the show veers off into King Lear for a few moments, & it's amazing how appropriate it sounds to hear King Lear's first speech done by Mr. Burns. Whole speeches from Shakespeare in the voice of a cartoon character can actually sound great.

It's a high-tech show. Rick Miller performs in front of a rear-projection video screen, which displays constantly shifting cartoon drawings which illustrate the settings & the character being impersonated. There is also a witches' cauldron on stage which has a video camera in it, so that the performer can play to this camera & have his face or crude paper cut-out puppets projected onto the screen.

The show was sold out, & there were quite a few kids in the audience.

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