Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Lily's Revenge

photo: Ves Pitts

A few weeks ago David Bell called me in a state of show euphoria during the final intermission of Taylor Mac's five hour theatrical happening. I *had* to see this, he insisted. Thanks, David, because a few days later the word was out all over town and the sprawling, relentlessly pleasurable, possibly once-in-a-lifetime five-play fantasia was one of the toughest tickets in town. A satire of theatrical modes, a campfest high and low, a smart playful pause to consider the push for marriage equality - the show is all these things alternately and often simultaneously, a party in five distinct parts that ultimately feels like a heartful gay-fabulous celebration of theatre's ability to speak to a community. The first play begins with Time (Miss Bianca Leigh, wearing a cuckoo clock on her head) warning us to flee the theatre lest we get sucked in to the show's "institutional narrative" wedding tale. Meanwhile her son The Great Longing (a show curtain personified, played by James Tigger Ferguson) assures us of the show's upcoming age-old pleasures. Taylor Mac, "planted" in the audience as a personified lily, enters the dispute through the fourth wall, wanting to be the story's Groom only to be told that flowers can not marry and he must first become a man. Big ideas, such as the limiting effects on love and imagination that result from the institutionalization of marriage and theatre, are playfully put over with a mix of devices both lofty and cheap: that's the commonality of the evening, even as the ensuing plays differ greatly in style and presentation. The result is a miraculous downtown epic that will, I've no doubt, be the stuff of legend for decades to come.

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