The Happiest Place on Earth is anything but for playwright Cory Conley (playing himself). He arrives to rescue his sister, Claire, who has been jilted while on vacation. Ostensibly in the throes of a nervous breakdown, Claire plans to blackmail Disney to allow her and her impossibly precocious daughter to live in the park. Conley finds his attempt at brotherly heroism complicated by his spiraling personal life and tenuous control over his own play. This all results in a collision of Pirandellian meta-theater, corporate satire and family drama, providing more jarring tonal shifts than a walk through Epcot’s international expositions. The play is not helped by Conley’s lack of acting experience; his dry, droll recitation serves him well in asides, but hobbles him as the emotional anchor of the play when things get darker. Frequently humorous dialogue and a witty depiction of Disney World as an absurdist dystopia run by a corporation-as-person (Daniel K. Isaac, blithely inhuman) don’t prevent the play from seeming as artificial as the Magic Kingdom itself. As Claire soon learns, a House of Mouse is not a home.—Austin Ruffer
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