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Showdown at Crawford Gulch 

The San Francisco Mime Troupe's annual Bush-bashing festival -- with good songs!

Wednesday, Aug 11 2004
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A top-hatted, long-mustachioed stranger in a silly suit named Cyrus T. Bogspavin comes to the Wild West town of Crawford Gulch, Texas, to inform everyone that the Comanches roundabout are mighty dangerous. "We ain't had much trouble before," says the mayor, but Bogspavin insists that the Injuns have "arrows of mass destruction." The newspaper prints fearful stories faster than it can confirm them; the town grows paranoid; Parson Jones starts shooting up trees. The characters this year don't map neatly onto the Bush administration -- and there's far, far more to the plot than I can repeat here -- but director Keiko Shimosato and playwright Michael Gene Sullivan have trimmed the San Francisco Mime Troupe's annual Bush-bashing festival down to a swift-moving 90 minutes. With good songs! Velina Brown's performance as a new newspaper editor (in "Do I Really Have What It Takes?") and Ed Holmes' duet with Amos Glick as the mayor and Bogspavin (in "The Business of Progress") keep the show engaging even when the plot spins absurdly out of control. Yes, the troupe still takes easy, predictable potshots, but at least its aim is not as wild as it was last year, when it compared the invasion of Iraq to a mad invasion of Canada. This time the target is a national press that found itself distracted by Washington shysters; the satire is layered and subtle. A blend of country, roots rock, and schlock-western theme music from the three-piece resident band (Rob Broadhurst, Joel Fadness, Victor Toman) also helps. Previous Mime Troupe shows have been known to bore young children to death, but this year the verdict from a nearby kid was, "No, Daddy, I wanna stay." He was digging the tunes.

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