“I am here for you!” declares San Francisco deputy director of housing Jill Hawkins to the audience at the beginning of the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s latest political musical comedy, “Treasure Island.”
Naive Jill (the always captivating Lizzie Calogero), a transplanted Brit and proud public servant, wants to make housing in the city affordable for everyone.
But she’s up against suspicious characters with revealing names like L.J. Silver (Brian Rivera), who claims to be a “land-use consultant.”
Eye patches, frilly shirt cuffs, boots, a peg leg and exclamations of “arghhh” prevail: These villains are greedy pirates operating as real estate developers and promising to build so-called affordable housing on our own sparsely populated Treasure Island.
Other characters are assorted poor folks whose homes and very life in The City are threatened by those developers.
And there’s the requisite wild-eyed crazy man, an ex-pirate who lives under the Bay Bridge, drinks his own urine and warns, in sepulchral tones, of “the monster” (a wonderfully comical Michael Gene Sullivan in one of several roles); Jill’s seemingly upright boss at City Hall (Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, also in several roles); and a few others.
When Jill, bravely struggling on her quest amidst endless obstacles, is lured to Treasure Island and meets a few of its residents, she wonders why housing wasn’t built here long ago.
Things get stranger when she has an especially amusing encounter with a drunken pirate named Mr. Bones (Andre Amarotico, terrific in a variety of roles).
Written by longtime head writer Sullivan with Ellen Callas and Marie Cartier and directed by Wilma Bonet, assisted by Lisa Hori-Garcia, this show has an especially witty script, with the usual strong comic acting and music (songs include a plaintive “How Will We Survive?”) by music director Michael Bello and lyrics by Daniel Savio, who’s also in the three-member band.
To many of us, Treasure Island is a little-known parcel of land out in the Bay, but the Mime Troupe, now in its 60th season, alleges that the old Navy base is radioactive (just as we discovered Hunters Point was) and is sinking into the Bay due to climate change. Yikes!
There’s no pat ending here, but “Treasure Island” concludes on a rousing note: Jill’s renewed determination to seek solutions to the housing crisis, and a plea for us to open our eyes to problems in our beautiful Bay.
Editor’s note: This review has been changed to reflect that the comments about Treasure Island’s environmental status were made by the Mime Troupe, not the reviewer.
Treasure Island: A New Musical
Presented by San Francisco Mime Troupe
Where: Throughout Northern California
When: Through Sept. 8
Tickets: Free; $20 donation requested
Select upcoming performances; music starts 30 minutes before show
2 p.m. July 20: Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McLaren Park, S.F.
7 p.m. July 24: SF Mime Troupe Studio Space, S.F. (RSVP required)
7 p.m. July 25: SF Mime Troupe Studio Space, S.F.
2 p.m. July 27: Balboa Park, S.F.
2 p.m. July 28: Yerba Buena Gardens, S.F.
2 p.m. Aug. 11: Glen Park, S.F.
2 p.m. Aug. 18: Potrero del Sol Park, S.F.
2 p.m. Aug. 31: Peacock Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F.
2 p.m. Sept. 1-2: Dolores Park, S.F.