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San Francisco Mime Troupe's 'Mr. Smith Goes to Obscuristan'
July 17, 2002

Since it is known for its political lampoons of current events, it's not surprising that the San Francisco Mime Troupe has chosen Sept. 11 and its aftermath for a target this year. Written by Josh Kornbluth (Haiku Tunnel) in collaboration with the troupe, Mr. Smith is a smart and humorous look at what happens to democratic ideals when profits are at stake. Obscuristan is a tiny desert nation that is so "dirt poor" it has to import sand. Jeff Smith is a Sept. 11 firefighter who's been sent to supervise the country's first democratic elections. However, it turns out that the elections are fixed ("Only an American could mistake a fixed election for a real one," candidate Ralif Nadir quips) and that the United States is supporting the corrupt government in order to gain control of Obscuristan's oil resources. On opening weekend the performance fell short of the troupe's usual polish, but there are plenty of much needed laughs and at least a few moments (Ed Holmes as Barbara Bush!) approaching brilliance.

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