City for Sale
The Fourth of July crowd that fanned out over Dolores Park for the San Francisco Mime Troupe's opening clearly expected lefty musical satire, and with a few concessions to parity (snipes at the good guys, cutting observations from the bad guys) they got it. The usual suspects -- sleazy business interests, impassioned activists, and two-faced politicos -- parade through a makeshift set, but what distinguishes this show from past productions like Damaged Care, a satire of the national managed health care debacle, is that this time, it's personal.
City for Sale, a sprawling but generally likable satire of San Francisco's demographic shift, couldn't have opened in a better neighborhood than the Mission, one of the last enclaves of characters like Junior (Bruce Barthol), a rumpled hippie musician. When young "techno-serf" Agnes (played with kewpie doll-like earnestness by Stephanie Taylor) buys a live-work loft, displacing Junior, his bandmates, and a Mexican-owned auto body shop, the Troupe digs into the citywide debate over skyrocketing rents, club closures, and generic corporate culture vs. local color. Amos Glick plays developer Ben with Mephistophelean glee and a sweeping black duster, but his disparaging summation of the show as "candy-coated propaganda" has an unfortunate basis in fact. Agnes' utterly unlikely change of heart doesn't reflect the uphill fight against Netizen cash flowing into city coffers. In a broad comic rendering of Willie Brown, Velina Brown gets off City's most dead-on line. "I really wanted to be the people's mayor," she confides to her pollster, "but then the parties started and I forgot."
Through Sept. 19 at various Bay Area locations; call 285-1717.
-- Heather Wisner
Writer/director F. Allen Sawyer gets a surprising number of laughs out of what is essentially a single joke. His cast, dressed in black, recites in a pulp novel's purple prose the story of a young senatorial candidate whose career is threatened when he succumbs to the love that dares not speak its name (aka his fiancee's hunky twin brother). The company winks at the tale's campiness with exaggerated double takes and arch line readings. Jason Scott Buro, as the candidate Van Carlton, does everything required of him, but it's Deena Davenport (as the understanding fiancee/fashion magazine editor) who shines with impeccable comic timing. She's both kittenish and vixenish: "I'm a big girl, Van, and I've been playing this fashion game a long time," she purrs in forgiveness. Trauma Flintstone plays the sinister senior partner in Van's law firm as a swishy Thurston Howell III, finding hidden sexual content in every word. But the director severely strains what good will he's built up with a too-abrupt and too-sweet ending that smacks of political correctness. Like any good politician, Sawyer promises little and delivers even less. With Otis Morgan and Jeff Wincek.
Through July 28 at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint, 3583 16th St. (at Market), S.F. Admission is $10; call 861-7933.