On Friday night I ventured over to Berkeley for a much overdue first visit to Impact Theatre. The occasion was their current revival production of Working for the Mouse, a solo show about the backstage side of life at Disneyland, written and performed by Trevor Allen, a noted local playwright. Allen is also married to one of my former work supervisors. It was a suitably memorable way to mark my 40th show for this year.
Working for the Mouse has developed an esteemed local following since its premiere way back in 2002, and a few subsequent runs since then. I can’t remember the first time I heard about it, but I was familiar with it. It could have been in the blog form of the play, which continues to evolve at this website.
The real live version had immediacy and a strong dose of humor, as Allen vividly explored his memories and experiences from a three year period in and out of Disneyland. He conveyed the wide open choices of late teendom and the carefree mentality that often comes along with those years. It was easy to see the influences of other co-workers on him, whether from an attractive “Alice” working alongside his “Mad Hatter”, or observing and being led on by fellow character actors in the park.
I did wonder about the process of putting the experiences into a wider context. Could they be seen as his last blast of childhood innocence? Wanting to get away from family? Not wanting a real job? A real life? Those questions were left unanswered, at least in the public version.
The Disney corporation is notoriously secretive. This wasn’t quite the expose or rag-fest that it might be, but it has comedy, pathos and potential. The show seems to clearly feed on a wide-ranging fascination that exists for well known organizations… and turn it on its head. Extra kudos should be given to Allen and his team for bringing it back to the stage for a fresh look and new generation of theatregoers such as myself.