Originally published on July 25, 2022 by Ken Marks in The New Yorker (“The Theatre, Now Playing”).
“The Simpsons,” a starting point for Anne Washburn’s 2012 play, has been on TV for thirty-two years, only slightly shorter than the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival made its home at Boscobel House and Gardens, about an hour north of New York. Now the company’s tent is pitched a few miles away, on the former Garrison Golf Course. The town of Springfield, where “The Simpsons” is set, is dominated by a nuclear power plant owned by Mr. Burns, and the town of Garrison is just up the road from the plant at Indian Point, a site mentioned in Washburn’s intriguing work, which explores the forces of pop culture and myth. The setting is not just post-electric but post-apocalyptic, as a group of strangers uses storytelling as a means of survival, trying to remember the details of a “Simpsons” episode. The play’s director, Davis McCallum, leads an excellent cast through a landscape of humor and dread. By the third act, with music by Michael Friedman and the talents of the Shades of Springfield Chorus, the group has expanded into a full-blown Greek tragicomic ensemble.