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.