The Simpsons operation is notoriously protective of its copyright over characters and images, so to have given Canadian impressionist Rick Miller permission for this project signals great approval; for him to be performing in the very venue at which the series' vocal stars arrive next week, even more so. For what Miller does is run through Macbeth in fifty minutes. Duncan and Malcolm are portrayed as Mr Burns and Smithers, Macduff is the drunken Barney, Krusty the Clown is the porter, and so on; even Bee Man and Hans Moleman turn up briefly. As for the murderous Thane himself, suffice it to say that he greets the news of Macduff's unnatural birth with an enormous "Doh!"
Miller is incredibly accomplished at getting the voices; were Dan Castellanata, Julie Kavner et al. to fall under a Lothian bus next week, he could voice the entire series himself. The problem is the rest of the presentation. He throws a number of shapes in his martial leather outfit, projects still drawings of characters and scene-setting photographs, even does an occasional bit of extreme close-up video work, but ultimately he can't hide the fact that this is, so to speak, Hamlet without the prince. It relies upon us to supply the visuals in our imagination. Perhaps Matt Groening and his associates should simply make it into a one-hour TV special... but then, Miller probably wouldn't get the chance to do the voices.
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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