Audience shares reactions to Rick Miller's MacHomer with the Daily Pennsylvanian

October 15, 2009

Shakespeare? Nay, Homer

One-man show combines Shakespeare with the Simpsons

by Jordan Sorokin The Daily Pennsylvanian

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The lights in the Zellerbach Theatre dim and a large projector illuminates the stage with images and silhouettes of Macbeth, Macduff and ... Homer Simpson?

On Wednesday, Penn students came out to watch Canadian-born actor Rick Miller perform MacHomer, a one-man act that blends William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the popular TV show The Simpsons. Throughout the performance, Miller intertwined the Macbeth plot line with Simpsons-like language and humor as well as current political allusions.

Though Miller is the only performer in the entire play — aside from his own drawings based off scenes from The Simpsons, which were projected on a screen behind him throughout the show — his simulation of more than 50 characters held enough energy to make up for an entire cast.

As Miller said in an interview, “I’m not used to speaking this slow.”

One act intertwines the King’s bloody death with Homer’s typical obsession with all things delicious. Miller mimed the murder as the projector behind him showed Homer stabbing an animated version of the King using a slice of pizza instead of a dagger.

Later, Miller acted as a Republican reverend as behind him the projector showed a Simpsons-like animation of a church sermon.

Miller, as the reverend, described people that go to hell as both “murderers” and “Democrats.”

Though the original skit is still “not a household name,” Miller said, it is continuing to grow in popularity and accessibility.

The play, he explained, “started as an in-joke ... then Canada hit ...” referring to the show’s debut at a Canadian theater festival in 1994.

Now, 650 shows later, Miller has performed the play in 150 cities in six countries around the world, including Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.

While on the surface the play may seem “silly,” underneath its layers rest social and political criticism and a deep appreciation of Shakespeare’s genius, according to Miller.

Attendee and college sophomore Tim Lew said he was “a big fan [of The Simpsons] growing up,” — and though he said he thought Miller’s simulation of the characters was “a little off” in the beginning, he “had a lot of energy.”

Chelsea Harris, a student from Clearview High School, agreed that the show was “interesting how he kept us focused on him,” and that Miller was “entertaining, even if you don’t know who he is.”