The Perfect American and A Not so Perfect Production

My university flatmates used to laugh at my melancholic taste. Much to their dismay, I only had a couple of DVDs to offer on slob days, following a night on the town. They were Irreversible, Jude (the obscure one from Hardy pages) and The Hours. They’d ask for Disney and I’d bring suicide, rape, and shit loads of it. As a result, DVD days soon turned into wails coming from my room, and giggles from theirs. We’d occasionally meet in the corridor, half way through, for a super noodle and cigarette.

I was, therefore, delighted to hear that finally the worlds of Sylvia Plath and Disney were uniting. In what shape, you may ask… WELL, a bloody opera – The Perfect American, with Philip Glass (The Hours composer and hero) composing the shit out of it.


I’m basically an opera virgin and was certain this was going to BLOW my mind. Within the first half hour, I was bored…

There was nothing magical about Disney – he was just a humongous ego in striped pyjamas. Yes, he was dying (hence the pjs) which is very sad. But boy did he bang on about it. Constantly singing about his fear of leaving the Disney empire behind. Walt – why don’t you deal with it the British way? Booze and fight.

And if Disney isn’t banging on about dying, he is harping back to a particularly boring place called Marcelline. Even Philip’s music becomes repetitive, but it’s no wonder, when literally the same scenes happen again and again. Don’t get me wrong – repetition can be a wonderful thing, but only if you liked it the first time.

The other crap recurring theme is Disney’s supposed lack of draftsmanship. A chubby, grey-haired man follows Disney around, claiming he did all the work. He appears in scenes from Walt’s youth and later in his old age – wearing the same outfit. Surely he would have changed clothes in fifty years? If not, I’m really surprised anyone can talk to him. He must stink.

But, what was the point in this? No one thought Disney ran the whole bloody show on his own. And no one cares if his drawing skills weren’t up to scratch. But this Santa type keeps banging on – ‘you are just a CEO’. Per-lease. Leave your dull employment title quarrels off stage.

There are also a few scenes with an owl and a child, but the relevance went way over my head and straight out the door… Somewhere I wouldn’t have minded going.

Philip’s composition is, nonetheless, magical. But it’s hard to hold on to the magic when Disney sings some pointless drivel, and the performers start, literally, quacking. I mean, really, we get it – Disney created Donald Duck. Quacking over Philip Glass? You should be ashamed of yourselves!

No offense to the Libretto – I am sure it is an incredibly difficult task, and I could do nothing of the sort. But I think The Perfect American would be closer to perfect without any words, because the music and visuals are mesmerising. Oh, and it would need a different storyline.

The whole thing just felt desperate. And by the end I was desperate for Pizza Express. I knew the £10 starter & main course deal would sort things out. It seems you just can’t put the melancholic into quack, quack, quack.