Through Sept. 3 at the Theater on the Square, 450 Post (between Powell and Mason), S.F. Admission is $25-35; call 433-9500.
"Frankenfoods," or genetically modified produce and meat, have been on the market for years, but panic in Europe and Asia and a now-famous American study on monarch butterflies have made them a trendy flash point for the radical left. The issue has all the ingredients for an agitprop show by the San Francisco Mime Troupe -- money-grubbing capitalists, starvation in the Third World, and nerdy sinister scientists doing things nobody quite understands to the foundation of life. Scary! Isn't it? Well, at least genetics and global economics are so complicated you can say almost anything about the people involved and get a laugh. It may come as a surprise, then, that the Mime Troupe's new show chops its argument finely enough to avoid exploiting the usual nightmares about killer mutant turnips. Its science-fiction plot deals with Dr. Isaac Albright (Michael Gene Sullivan), who regrets rushing to market with a strain of Super Corn, and travels back in time to change the course of history. Instead of panning genetically altered food as a concept, the play tries to show how market pressures break down good science, and how "bioserfdom" arises when Third World countries depend on seed from one particular (usually American) firm. It's silly, self-deprecating, and basically engaging. You still have to sit through bad songs like "Our Dream," a smarmy duet between Dr. Albright and his wife, Dr. Albright-Bloom (Velina Brown), but there's also "Savin' Seeds," a hokey folk protest on guitar and mandolin by a couple of funny Canadian farmers, and a shameless Threepenny Opera rip-off called "Short Term Gain." Overall it's much better than Damaged Care, two years ago; rumors that the Mime Troupe has improved are true.
In various Bay Area parks through Sept. 4. Admission is free; call 285-1717 for a schedule.
--Michael Scott Moore