Lick the Mouse, Hi-Volt Theatre Company, at Breadline Theatre. Christopher Dippel's 40-minute play, his first, is like a subversive Saturday Night Live sketch stretched too thin. A Father Knows Best sort of family living in a parallel universe keeps a plastic statue of Mickey Mouse on the mantel as an icon. Whenever they enter or leave the room--or have a disturbing thought--they lick it as a kind of genuflection. Their life is perfect until son Charlie (Peter Ellis) reads Huckleberry Finn and learns for the first time about questioning authority, defined here as both corporate culture and organized religion. His refusal to lick the mouse leads to the entrance of a pious, slightly sinister Mouseketeer (Manny Tamayo) who tries to bring Charlie back into the fold.
The plot moves along well under director Chris Matthews, though Dippel's use of Huckleberry Finn remains puzzling--his premise has promise but never turns into anything deeper than a one-note joke. Larry Sellers and Matthews get the set right, however, right down to the Yule log burning merrily on a TV screen.