14 November 2008

The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac

The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac
14 November 2008
The Speigeltent


As thousands paid far-too-many dollars to encourage regression and waltz at the world’s largest transportable Viennese castle, sitting inside a sports stadium; an elite group filled the Speigeltent supporting Taylor Mac, his Pandora’s suitcase and his belief that we can over turn mediocrity with pizzazz.

Taylor Mac used to share his “plays” with fellow Americans, but success at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe has led him further afield. His plays are a fusion of ukulele accompanied songs and stand-up monologue. The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac is more than just a typo; he describes it as subversive juke-box musical of the best of his Bush-era work. (Having also seen Lea DeLaria earlier, can I say how glorious it is to see artists from the USA being proud of their country’s recent voting decision.)

Taylor believes whole heartedly in beauty, but not in perfection. He is among the many bringing drag out of the Danny La Rue closet into a world that embraces the masculine and feminine in all of us. Taylor’s “finery” includes outrageously coloured and glittery make up, fishnets, dread-locked wigs or his bald head, and a changing op shop collection of frocks and high heels (which may be oppressing to women – but to him they are liberating). There’s a lot of femininity about Taylor, but it never hides or distracts from his male self.

He’s incomparable and, as he says, “Comparisons are for people who don’t have enough adjectives in their vocabulary”. Fuck-me shoes, too-much sparkle and jokes about language and grammar – what’s not to adore!

However, Taylor’s work comes from times when he wasn’t adored and from the hate that has caused pain and death to people who dare to step away from the accepted middle line. There’s a lot of fun in this show, like his piece about having to masturbate to stereotypes, but it’s supported by a backbone of material about the loss of love, and sobering reflections like his song about the 2007 shooting of 15-year-old Lawrence King.

Taylor sings that the revolution will not be masculinised. Welcoming the hetero queers in the audience, he defines queer as, “Someone who was shunned by society so much as a youth that they can never shun.”  He knows he’s usually preaching to the converted, but reminds us that we go to church to be inspired.  By the end of the night the entire “queer” audience was inspired and reminded that, “Nothing is worth doing if it doesn’t make you feel nervous”.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com

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