The current show at The Wilbury Theatre Group is the New England Premiere of "A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney" written by one of America's fastest young rising playwrights, Lucas Hnath. The show is an examination into the last days of one of the greatest icons America has ever known as his success was peaking and his personal life floundering. Tonight Walt is going to read a screenplay he wrote and he invites his brother, his daughter and her husband. It's about his last days on earth. It's about a city he is going to build that's going to change the world. And its about his brother. It's about everyone who loves him so much, and about how sad they are going to be when he's gone. Or so he thinks. Director Brien Lang infuses his cast with high energy and insight to create these real life characters. He immerses the audience in the action of the story, a conference room where you are observing the proceedings. The topnotch acting of these four performers keep you on the edge of your seat and wonder what is going to happen next in this dark comedy.
Vince Petronio commands the stage as Walt Disney, speaking directly to the audience at times during this 80 minute show. The character smokes incessantly, pops pills washing them down with vodka but demands things from his brother, Roy in a very controlling manner. He wants to create this perfect city in Florida but the Disney Board and the politicians of the state keep throwing a monkey wrench into his grandiose plans. Walt uses his son-in-law, Ron in a power play against Roy to try to obtain what he wants. The argument scene between Walt and his brother is electrifying. He influences Ron to be the bully at the Board meetings, blaming everything that went wrong on Roy including the animator's strike and the death of the lemmings in their movie. Vince captures the nuances of this larger than life personality, delivering a tour-de-force performance with enormous amounts of dialogue excellently. Even though Walt seems to be optimistic about things, death seems to be the one obstacle even he can't overcome. When Walt doesn't like the way things are going, he says cut.
Tom Chace plays Roy marvelously. He is Walt's henchman and sounding board for his many ideas and schemes through the years. Tom and Vince's scenes crackle with high energy and fantastic timing, keeping the show in constant motion. Roy must take the blame for any failings along the way especially when the animators want to revolt and the death of the lemmings. Tom gives Roy the warmth and humanity that Walt lacks. Walt's long suffering daughter is played by Andrea Carlin. She comes on in the scene where she refuses to name her children after father, showing him that his real life doesn't reflect all the make believe stuff he has created all these past years. Josh Andrews delivers a strong performance as Ron, her husband. He is an ex-football player who Walt uses in his anger at his brother. Walt makes Ron a board member to irritate Roy and blame Roy for all of Walt's wrong doings.So for a brand new script that really grabs the interest of the audience, be sure to catch this show with terrific acting and topnotch direction.