Canadian playwright Michael McKinlay has imagined a semi-brutal castigation fest between the brothers Disney, meeting late at night in Walt’s office at the old Hyperion Avenue Walt Disney Studios in the spring of 1936. The capable acting duo of John Allore (Walt) and Tom Babuscio (Roy) employ as much nuance as possible within this nonstop emotional tirade, but McKinlay’s tediously narrow concept runs out of steam after about 20 minutes and drags for two more hours.
In a driving rainstorm, solid and taciturn Roy has come to Walt’s office to find out why his brother has not been home all evening. He is greeted by a wild-eyed, whiskey-swilling, pistol-toting loony who proceeds to hide Roy’s car keys and throw his brother’s rain-soaked clothes down an incinerator. With the phones not working, Walt is free to bombard his trapped brother with his alcohol-inspired accusations that Roy is a talentless, humorless fiscal mole who is greedily grasping at his brother’s coattails for survival.
In turn, Roy offers his long-repressed opinion that Walt is an impractical dreamer who usurps other people’s talents and if it wasn’t for Roy’s business acumen, the studio would fail.
Along the way, there is some tediously redundant business involving short and stubby Roy putting on and taking off tall and lanky Walt’s polo jersey and jodhpurs, as well as an overly long session in the second act wherein Walt attempts to sketch his brother. What’s missing is the playwright’s justification as to why the audience should spend any time with these petulant, immature characters who offer no clues to the larger-than-life duo that ultimately created the monumental fantasy empire we know.
The fault does not lie with the actors. Allore’s Walt is a laserbeam of intensity, and Babuscio is quite believ-able as the much put-upon older brother who is petrified of creative people but knows how to get things done.
The set and lighting designs of Alex Grayman and Sindy Slater, respectively, create a believable late-night studio office environment for this cathartic pas de deux. Also effective are the “Snow White” storyboard sketches of Michael Laughlin that gives some validity to the supposed work-in-progress of this historic endeavor.