Disney & Deutschland

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Through Feb. 24 at the Garage, 975 Howard (at Fifth St.), S.F. Tickets are $10-$20; call 829-2301 or visit www.975howard.com.

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Imagining the details of a historically documented 1935 meeting between Walt Disney and Adolf Hitler is a great spark for a play, but playwright and director John J. Powers' production never ignites. The 20-minute history lesson that starts the 90-minute play fails to build up the excitement before the big get-together. Once Disney and Hitler are in the same room, along with Hitler's right-hand man, Joseph Goebbels; and his personal filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl; there is hardly any dramatic action to push the play along. There are occasionally tense moments, such as when Hitler wonders how much of a Jew-hater Disney really can be if he works in Hollywood. But most of the hour is spent sitting around a big oak table, drinking sherry, and swapping tales of German efficiency and American pluck. Powers teases us with some provocative themes, such as the true roots of Disney's fantasy playland for children, but the tease never pays off.

 
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