• Nearly all reviews spend the majority of time summarizing, explaining, and discussing their own interpretation of the play. There is little focus on individual production choices.

  • Reviews are highly opinionated- either raving or ranting.

  • Ensemble acting is a highlight.

  • Critics cannot agree on Act 3. It is either their favorite part or their least. Some were disturbed by its violence.

  • Most agree that you do not need to know much about The Simpsons or Cape Feare, but suggest that audiences have some knowledge for the best experience.

  • They prefer not to reveal much about what happens in the story, challenging viewers to enjoy the mystery and trying to piece together the show.

  • Critics also agree that the show is successful in getting people to talk about it, sharing different experiences and interpretations.

  • The play is 15 minutes too long.

  • Some critics note several audience members noticeably leaving at intermissions.

  • Best moments: Wal-Mart story, Gibson’s Act II breakdown,

  • Weakest moments: Act II, Act I opening

  • Shocking moments: End of act II

Click here to read my full summary of the reviews as well as a printable timeline.


2012, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, D.C. 

  • Director: Steven Cosson

  • Composer: Michael Friedman

  • Notable: Premiere


Review: “…a breathtaking, brain-teasing evening that asks you to consider how pop culture is embraced, metabolized and reinterpreted through the filters of time and cataclysmic events.


Review: “Now you may be asking ‘how does all of this tie together’ and I am telling you, ‘I don’t know.'”


2013, Playwrights Horizon, New York City

  • Director: Steven Cosson

  • Composer: Michael Friedman

  • Actors: The Civilians

  • Notable: Off-Broadway. Nominated for  Drama League Award. Uses Elizabethan theatre, commedia dell’arte, Noh, and opera

NYT Review: "When was the last time you met a play that was so smart it made your head spin?”


Review: “The play is both scary and sweet, funny but dead serious, unique and wonderfully theatrical.”

2014, Almeida Theatre, London

  • Director: Robert Icke

  • Composer: Orlando Gough and Michael Henry

  • Notable: Used a real campfire and candles.

Review: “This is a play that appears to have been calculated not just to annoy, but to actually distress, discomfort and dehydrate audiences.”

2015, Theatre Wit, Chicago

  • Director: Jeremy Wechsler

  • Composer: Michael Friedman


Review: “Washburn’s script has a very distinct kind of thrill, the one that kicks in when you have absolutely no idea where a play is going, except that it is not likely to be anyplace you recall being before in a theater.”

2015, Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis

  • Director: Mark Rucker

  • Composer: Michael Friedman

  • Notable: Used Elizabethan tragedy, operetta, kabuki, and Brecht


Review: “One way to look at it is that the performance style goes from campfire stories to traditional theatre to opera, but another way is that it goes backwards from the loose, improvisatory style of the first act to the heavily ritualized Greek drama that is the third.”


2015, R-S Theatrics, St. Louis

  • Director: Christina Rios

  • Composer: Michael Friedman

  • Notable: Audience sat onstage and Maria is pregnant during the first act.


Review: “You have never seen anything like it. That’s in a good way- albeit in a really, really strange one.”


2015, ACT Theatre, Seattle

  • Director: John Langes

  • Composer: Michael Friedman


Review: “After I summarized Mr. Burns for her, she said: ‘Yeah, that’s how Christianity started.’ Walsh described an ancient literary marketplace teeming with writers. Messiah stories were hot. The synoptic gospels as we know them began as ‘competing narratives that got ironed out in the public sphere, and some were more aesthetically successful than others,’ Walsh said. Some got canonized, some-the ones that were ‘a little freaky’ didn’t.”


Interview With The Director


Interview With Set Designer

2015, Unicorn Theatre, Kansas City

  • Director: Theodore Swetz

  • Composer: N/A


Review: “It challenges the audience to think and talk about the show… Some got it. Some did not. Some had different ideas about the show. And, that’s probably exactly what the playwright intended.”

2015, Phoenix Theatre, Indianapolis 

  • Director: Courtney Sale

  • Composer: N/A


Review: “I won’t say much more because a big part of the pleasure here is having no idea where the piece is going.”


2015, Stage West, Fort Worth

  • Director: Garret Storms

  • Composer: Michael Friedman


Review: “Perhaps the most surprising thing about Mr. Burns, a play littered with surprises, is just how scary it is…We tell ourselves stories about ourselves, about each other, about the world around us, and about what we just saw to make sense of what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen next. It reminds us to believe that what we are doing here matters, because our greatest, most palpable fear is that it doesn’t.”