The San Francisco Mime Troupe, those beloved purveyors of left-wing politics wrapped in comedy, are back for their 52nd season of free al fresco performances. In their new original play with music directed by Wilma Bonet, they’re stickin’ it to the man once again, with their usual wit, good humor and elan.
Michael Gene Sullivan’s script (additional dialogue by Ellen Callas) starts off with a play within a play: the opening night of “The Revolution Will Not Be Downloaded,” a political comedy in Shakespearean verse presented by a very Mime Troupe-like company, Theater BAM! The mission of the incorruptible artistic director, Elaine (Lizzie Calogero), is to tell people “stuff they need to know but don’t want to hear.”
But the theater’s on the skids, and its volunteer fundraiser, who happens to be Elaine’s investment-banker sister, Suze (as in Orman), played by Siobhan Marie Doherty, wants to accept a new grant, offered by the elegant Mrs. Haverlock (Keiko Shimosato Carreiro).
Haverlock purports to represent a progressive “green” corporation. She’ll give the faltering theater big bucks; in return, BAM! must produce “2012 — The Musical!” a Broadway-style extravaganza (with hilarious elements of “Young Frankenstein” and “Hair”) that blithely advises, “Party till Judgment Day/The Rapture’s almost here/Crack another beer/There’s only one more year.” Just as the two sisters are divided over what path to take, so is the entire theater company.
And the agenda of Haverlock’s corporation, it transpires, is deeply evil.
The Mime Troupe is warning us that corporations are mind-numbingly insidious and all-powerful. “How many of you work in a corporation?” one of the characters slyly taunted the opening-day audience at Dolores Park on the Fourth of July. But the show’s upbeat message is that it’s not too late for “power to the people” — as long as we don’t allow ourselves to get co-opted by corrupt politicians, rampant materialism or false prophets, and don’t submit to despair. In other words, keep on truckin’.
The plot rolls toward a rousing conclusion by way of the Troupe’s trademark commedia-style performances (the stellar cast includes Sullivan as a hilariously vacuous senator-for-sale, plus Victor Toman and Cory Censoprano in several roles) and six witty songs (for which Pat Moran and Bruce Barthol, respectively, wrote the music and lyrics) accompanied by the Mime Troupe band.
As Sullivan’s puppetlike senator unwittingly declares — and as the Mime Troupe has been proclaiming for a half-century — “You just can’t let the bastards win.”
2012 — The Musical!
Presented by San Francisco Mime Troupe
Where: Parks throughout the Bay Area
When: Through Sept. 21; schedules vary
Tickets: Admission is free
Contact: (415) 285-1717 or www.sfmt.org