Philip Dawkins’ “The Happiest Place on Earth” Review – Disneyland Deconstruction

One-man show “The Happiest Place on Earth” by Philip Dawkins, a co-production by Sideshow Theatre Company and Greenhouse Theater Center, gives us a slice of life peek into the author’s family coping with tragedy in the era of Populuxe.

Philip Dawkins’ Family Story

Dawkins is from the next generation of that family. In the midst of his play, he confides that he hasn’t been happy in memory. We sense that this compilation of his family’s narrative of loss is Dawkins’ very personal WHODUNIT exploration of where his sadness was born.

Strangers to his family though we may be, we are able to latch on to Dawkins’ highly personal tale in no small part because he is so darn likable. How can you not love a man who corresponds daily with his MS-impacted aunt, treasuring every word that she has labored to type. If that doesn’t grab you, for sure his seamless move in and out of the voices of the chain-smoking women in his family will.

Disneyland Unrealities

We are in Disneyland. It’s a place where children vomit frequently, but all evidence of these mishaps is quickly erased by Disney “cast members” wielding pixie dust.  One minute we can go on dizzying magic teacup rides, and then we stop to chat up Cinderella.

It’s a forced march towards happiness. Dawkins was compelled by his family to take Magic Kingdom journeys dozens of times as he grew up. This time we go with him-- from the opening days of Disney’s $1 admission ticket to the $100 ticket of today.

It’s a beauty of this script that we meet not just Dawkins’ family in Disneyland but also the soul of (white) America in its imagined simpler times.  It would be interesting to see how post-election times resonate with the script as well.

When:

Now through November 30, 2016

Wednesdays – Saturdays 8 PM

Sundays – 2:30 PM

 

Where:

Greenhouse Theater

2257 North Lincoln Avenue

Chicago

 

Tickets:

Flex passes to Greenhouse’s Solo Celebration for admission to three plays are $99, five plays for $164. Single tickets are $42 – 48.

 

Photos: Michael Brosilow

 

 

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