Say Uncle

A tattered, nearly shredded American flag served as the icon for these three scenes, still a work in progress. Nick Fracaro, who also directed, delivered the brief and subtly cynical The 3 Minute Manifesto for an Uncle Sam on Stilts. Decked in patriotic red, white, and blue, Fracaro represented the American dream, as offerd by any political candidate. The text is brilliantly subversive and set the tone for the following performers.

With a startling entrance, musician/actor Wharton Tract, portraying a character Uncle, presented a derelict with maniacal precision, with incessant mutterings and silence-shattering shrieks of frenetic urgency. Perhaps he is not a derelict or a vagrant but rather the next undiscovered genius incomprehensible to members of the rat race. Finally, Gabriele Schafer arrived as the Box Office, appropriately clad in a scanty G-string teddy brimming with folded dollar bills, at once a table dancer representing capitalism and the mechanism used to generate such capital ­ sex.

Fracaro's direction was smooth with special fluidity enhancing the movement of Schaferıs performance. Tract added some mood-setting blues with his guitar and harmonica. Say Uncle is at one moment performance art: people peddling their message to the masses in the hopes that one person might hear the desperation beneath their words. At the next moment it is a glance into the adulteration of the American dream: a torn flag, the political whore, and the dazzling stripper dispensing dollars. Myriad messages could be gleaned from this theatrical commentary. ­

-Betty Wilder

Presented by Thieves Theatre and Theatre Double at Ivy Substation, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City in Association with Bottomıs Dream as part of the Los Angeles Edge of the World Theatre Festival 2000.