By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
The Disney Delusion (Grindstone Comedy Theatre)
I don’t know if “wince-laughing” is a term yet in the audience reaction theatre handbook. If not, consider this clever, very funny solo play by and starring Leif Oleson-Cormack to be its official calling card.
Wince-laughing will come naturally to you in the course of a show in which the man before us, who has a lighthouse beacon smile and a gift of the gab, tells a personal — hilariously, ruefully, yes wincingly, personal — story of his younger self.
This Leif, whom the current bisexual Leif conjures unflinchingly, with an air of “I know, right?,” is a sexual naïf with an MFA in playwriting, self-esteem issues, and unrequited romantic hopes in 2006. Imagine the sense of futility attached to a college education and chalking up mountainous student debts without ever losing your virginity. Wincing, right?
Anyhow our hero’s crackpot calculations vis-a-vis Arthur, a hunky crush he never seems to be able to land, go way south in the escalating chaos of a trip to Disneyland. Oleson-Cormack’s transparently ulterior motive vis-à-vis Arthur is a day of going on all the rides, with a carefully plotted progression towards the more romantic ones like Pirates of the Caribbean, and a movie kiss timed for the exact moment the nightly fireworks go off. What could go wrong?
The story of how he and Arthur are diverted by a sugar daddy doctor on the make before they even get to Anaheim, and end up in West Hollywood on the very night of Obama’s first victory, ups its ante in a crescendo of comic dread and hilarity. The gin-and-tonics are triples; “drunk logic” is disastrously applied. And did I mention the Frank Sinatra impersonator? The Disney Delusion is masterfully told, and annotated liberally with smart observational humour by Oleson-Cormack, a winsome performer, spontaneous and engaging.
“An (unfortunately) true story” as billed, the show is an unusual fusion of stand-up comedy and theatre. And it capitalizes on the particular appeals of both — the bright forward energy (and sharp-eyed comic observations) of the former, the narrative structure and momentum of the latter. Both the current and the younger Leif’s occupy the stage, in a vivid way. And they make great company for a Fringe hour.