Written by Lucas Hnath, The Death of Walt Disney tells a story larger than just his demise. The actors – Tobias Manderson-Galvin, Kerith Manderson-Galvin, Lenore Manderson, and Patrick Galvin – each play an actor in what is purported to be a staged reading of an unproduced screenplay.
The show casts a wider net than his end, exploring Walt’s relationships with his family, his business, and ultimately himself.
It’s a lovely setup as the audience find their way to their seats. The actors are waiting at a table on a raised platform, Mickey Mouse masks pulled down over their face. The stage front is framed by a one-part delightful / one-part unsettling side of a bone-white inflatable castle.
As the character of Walt smokes (and he does a lot), a beautiful stylised touch is having a smoke machine spew smoke into the crown while Walt’s smoking gesture, an imagined cigarette, bounces rapidly over his mouth.
The piece is more of a beat poem than it is a traditional film script; an interrogation of a man’s life and legacy, where each scene includes the percussive refrain of “Cut to” screenplay notations. Through the noise and staging, the story gradually comes through.
Technical problems with microphones aside, if the show struggled in its storytelling at all it was in the moments where the staging tried to match the text’s frenetic style. The most effective moments were those kept simple and deliberate.
Jules Pascoe’s music was a welcome accompaniment throughout. In the end, the performers succeed in describing how long and distorted a shadow can be cast when a life is not lived well.
The Death of Walt Disney
The MC Showroom, 1 / 48 Clifton Street, Prahran
Performance: Friday 13 July 2018 – 8.00pm
Review: David Collins