SF Mime Troupe's Walls Builds High Jinks, Cuteness Around Deportation Anxiety And Racism
by Joe Kukura
July 3, 2017
Lizzie Calogero (Cliodhna Abhabullogue), Velina Brown (L. Mary Jones), and Marilet Martinez (Zaniyah Nahuatl) in 'Walls'
Tuesday’s July 4’s San Francisco Mime Troupe performance of their new play Walls continues the musical theater group’s multiple-decade tradition of free shows in Dolores Park, but SFist caught this weekend’s premiere of Walls at Berkeley’s Cedar Rose Park. I'm pleased to report that Walls bigly and beautifully builds on the troupe’s 58-year-tradition of “fighting oppression, one play at a time,” and completely lives up to Breitbart’s unhinged description of the play as an “illegal alien lesbian musical.”
The primary charm of Walls is that it really is an “illegal alien lesbian musical,” a simple romantic musical comedy peppered with delightfully cute numbers. But the songs and storylines all address thoroughly depressing contemporary topics like deportation anxiety, terrorism, homophobia, and Trump-era racism. Still, Walls manages to maintain that Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland “Let’s put on a show!” enthusiasm, except in this case Judy Garland is a lesbian, African-American immigration agent, and Mickey Rooney is an undocumented Latina played by a not-yellowfaced, actual performer of color.
If you’ve seen a San Francisco Mime Troupe performance before, Walls is entirely consistent with the same formula they’ve used in these shows for years. It’s a “socially conscious” play, with an old-school, party-line liberal political ethic and a Looney Tunes level of sophistication. Only four actors are employed, each playing two to three different roles, and their musical numbers are backed up by a three-piece Vaudeville band with a Casio keyboard.