By contrast, Smith (played with equal facility and a slightly hyperbolic, wry affect) has a cantankerous air about him. While forthcoming enough, he casts back a knowingly cautious, skeptical, even sarcastic tone to his various interviewers.
Here are two spiritual fathers, you might say, of the 20th-century United States, whose diametrically opposed outlooks constitute and reflect something like a metaphysical rift in the culture at large. Blended with Aylesworth's simple yet choice staging, the acute and droll performances, and the laid-back but excellent renditions of selections from the Anthology, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean approaches its themes with a charm all the more forceful for being quirky and understated.
And if our DJ channels the despair of the age, it's clear that despair cuts two ways too. It leads either to the acquiescence and metaphysical poverty of Bernays-style fables of freedom and plenty or to the awakened, agitated thought, action, and social conscience of a Harry Smith, which seeks nothing in the end more than the obliteration of myth and the reanimation of the senses. With its rousing good humor and a shrewd theatrical assurance whose crystalline simplicity resonates with far-reaching themes, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean gives eloquent voice to the restless rebel wide awake beneath the glossy, manufactured surface of the American dream. SFBG
SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS KEPT CLEAN
Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.
Traveling Jewish Theatre
470 Florida, SF
$15–$20 (Thurs., pay what you can)
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