San Francisco Mime Troupe opens 53rd season with typical excellence

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: 5/5 Stars » Outstanding)

This reviewer is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

As soon as Victor Toman takes the stage as blowhard corporate accountant Jack Badger in San Francisco Mime Troupe’s For the Greater Good or The Last Election, fans immediately relax, knowing that, for yet another season, San Francisco Mime Troupe is going to deliver the goods. The premiere American proponent of agitprop people’s theatre, the Mime Troupe has polished their style to perfection. Their only peer in this arena is El Teatro Campesino of San Juan Bautista (founded by former Mime Troupe member Luis Valdez), and the Mime Troupe can claim seniority. (The Bay area is extraordinarily fortunate to be home to these two world-class companies.)

The politics, as always, are predictably leftist. Agree or disagree, the points being made are easy to understand and presented entertainingly with a delicious satirical punch.

For The Greater Good tells the story of Gideon Bloodgood (Ed Holmes), a Wall Street banker who embezzles two and half million dollars from the dying Captain Algood Fairweather (Velina Brown) to save himself from prison while leaving the widow Fairweather and her infant daughter to live in poverty and suffer the indignities (satire alert) of government handouts. Years later, his accountant Jack Badger prepares to blackmail him over the affair. Complications ensue when his daughter, Alida Bloodgood (a wickedly humorous Lisa Hori-Garcia) joins the Occupy Movement along with the Widow Fairweather and activist Damian Landless (Reggie D. White).

Betrayed, Mr. Badger (r, Victor Toman) discovers Banker Gideon Bloodgood’s (l, Ed Holmes) plans for a rich future do not include the likes of him in For the Greater Good, or The Last Election. Photo Credit: DavidAllenStudio.com

As always with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the performances are comically over the top and delivered with a high degree of expertise. The cartoon characterizations are full of satirical fun, the songs amuse and the clever costumes and sets add to the overall glee. So what if the singing tends to be flat! We wouldn’t want it any other way. This is, after all, the people’s theatre and we value heart over perfection. In its 6th decade, the Mime Troupe’s heart is beating strong.

The band, by the way, is excellent.

Whatever your politics, no one can deny the heart and commitment of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, or fail to recognize the company as a leading practitioner of this type of theatre.

The Mime Troupe will be occupying parks every weekend through early September throughout the Bay Area and as far away as Nevada City. The cost is always free. For detailed information, click here.

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“For The Greater Good” or “The Last Election”, by Michael Gene Sullivan. Produced by The San Francisco Mime Troupe. Director: Michael Gene Sullivan. Score, Lyrics and Musical Direction: Pat Moran. Choreography: Victor Toman. Scene Designers: Victor Toman, Ben Flax and Maurice Beesley. Costume Designer: Blake Moore.

Jack Badger: Victor Toman. Gideon Bloodgood: Ed Holmes. Alida Bloodgood: Lisa Hori-Garcia. Lucy Fairweather: Velina Brown. Mrs. Fairweather: Keiko Shimosato Carreiro. Damian Landless: Reggie D. White. 1987 Chorus: Velina Brown, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Reggie D. White. Clarence: Keiko Shimosato Carreiro. Captian Algood Fairweather: Velina Brown. Mrs. Bloodgood: Lisa Hori-Garcia. Occupiers: Victor Toman, Velina Brown, Lisa-Hori-Garcia, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro. Mrs. Puffy: Lisa Hori-Garcia. Mr. Puffy: Victor Toman.

The SFMT Band: Trumpet, barriton sax, flute, keys and bass: Michael Bello. Drumset, percussion: Joel Fadness. Guitar, keys, trombone, bass: Pat Moran.

SFMT Collective: Velina Brown, Ellen Callas, Michael Carreiro, Ed Holmes, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Will McCandless, Pat Moran, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Michael Gene Sullivan, Wan-Yin Tang, Victor Tonan.

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