Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Magic Exists

Write what you know. It's the mantra some writers live by while others stray far far away from. When you write what you know, chances are the emotional stakes will be ever present. In Cory Conley's latest play Magic Kingdom, Conley taps into a moment of his life, or a coincidental moment, and brings it to the stage in a wonderfully theatrical style. And who better to tell his story than Conley himself.
Magic Kingdom follows Cory as he travels to the Magic Kingdom to rescue his sister, Claire, and niece from, well, Claire. After being abandoned by her husband in Tomorrowland, Claire sets out to make a new home right in the Magic Kingdom. As insanity ensues, we meet a cast of characters including old and new flames for both siblings, zany tourists, and Mickey himself! No, not the mouse but the personification of the mouse’s corporation. Conley's script is nothing short of smart, clever, and beyond engaging. The theatricality of the world is quite brilliant. The story is told simply. Sure some of the circumstances are a bit out there but that's what makes Conley loveable. And if you're enthusiasts of the source location, there are some fun inside jokes for you. Despite the D word never being uttered, the Happiest Place on Earth is present through reference and projections. The one tiny question that begs to be asked is what if another actor played Cory. Would the story still be told properly? Sure, this is a personal story and Conley is a wonderful nonchalant comedian, but with such a beautiful script, any sense of indulgence would deter from its intent.
To bring this play to life, a fantastic ensemble of actors was assembled. Marisa Lark Wallin was fantastic as the wise beyond her years Emma. She easily played nine years old without becoming a caricature. Daniel K. Isaac as Mickey delivered some of the evenings greatest moments with his perfect deadpan as the iconic corporation. Cameron Michael Burns as Dylan and Tyler, two of Cory’s love interests, plays youthful and innocent with hilarity. Burns receives a show stopping applause after his rousingly entertaining Facebook post monologue. An extra special recognition should be given to Drew Ledbetter as the button pusher controlling the projections. If you caught Ledbetter in the back watching the show, you couldn’t help but smiling at how excited he was to watch the action.
Director Craig Baldwin does a fabulous job using the space to it’s fullest and keeping the action lively and entertaining. Baldwin’s brilliance in simplicity easily told the story, nailing the range of emotions lifted from Conley’s script. Miriam Nilofa Crowe’s lights were colorful, evoking the happy endorphins Magic Kingdom naturally spreads.
Magic Kingdom is nothing short but amusing and a beautiful script. The entire teams does a fantastic job telling Conley’s story. The burning question for the future is does this play live on without Cory as Cory. But without a doubt, this another incredible script from a brilliant mind.

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