Talking Trash | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Talking Trash, Scrap Mettle Soul, at Margate Park Community Center. "I'm a G-man," declares Tomas from Streets and San. "I pick up your garbage. But you have to clean up your own messes." This sets the tone for Talking Trash, a musical revue by Jules Corriere and composer Lloyd Brodnax King created in support of Keep Chicago Beautiful. Soon we meet our other hosts: Stack, a janitor; Sylvia, a scavenger; Maria, a charity fund-raiser; Jimmy, a Misericordia outpatient; and Teacher, an activist protesting the dumping of hazardous waste near her school.

Then there's the loquacious trash itself--dainty blue bags, shabby kitchen cans, menacing locked dumpsters. These repositories for the detritus of modern life recount fables and family secrets with gleeful candor--among them, the story of a landlord dubbed "Br'er Rabbit" for his practice of tarring his building's roof himself rather than hiring a repairman, with disastrous results.

Accompanied by three instrumentalists, the Scrap Mettle Soul ensemble leads us through a festival of stories, poems, and songs, redeeming the occasional lack of polish with their industry and enthusiasm (though the transvestite Miz Thomas's serenade displays a winsome panache, as does Sylvia's eloquent yearning for a canine companion). By the time we get to the finale, a jubilant full-cast dance number featuring carnival masks fashioned from--what else?--leaf-disposal sacks, we can't help but join in the community spirit.

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