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A CurtainUp Review
The Lily's Revenge

By Elyse Sommer

This play may last the rest of your life.— Time embodied by Miss Bianca Leigh
The Lily's Revenge
A scene from The Lily's Revenge
I like theatrical events of epic proportions, but I confess that I approached Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge with some trepidations. Almost five hours of even the most inspired and cutting edge multimedia theater, seemed like a big chunk of commitment. But Taylor Mac is a darling of downtown aficionados and the show sounded too intriguing to miss.

I'm pleased to report that Mac's Extravaganza had me exiting the Here Arts Center more exhilarated than exhausted. The four acts of this cheeky epic staged by six directors, feature forty-plus performers (with Mac am amazing standout in the central role), puppets, live music and spectacular costumes by the aptly named Machine Dazzle. That's just a short list of -- the variously daffy and dazzling delights. The big surprise was that the show was not only remarkably entertaining but actually had something deeper on its mind. Sure there were times when I would have been happy with a fast forward clicker, but there was enough variety and yes, serious meaning, to maintain my glad-I-came enthusiasm.

The various acts are broken up with three intermissions that exceed the usual ten minutes in order to accommodate reconfiguring the performance space for each part and which proved to be entertaining in their own right as the show extends beyond the performance space so that the audience has a chance to roam into dressing room, hallways, stairs and bathrooms. These intermission segments are staged by the sixth director, Kristin Marting, to expand the sense of a fantastical coup de-theatre experience.

To try to give you an idea of what it's about. There's the playwright as the title character — a flower that emerges from its pot to fulfill his yearning to be a man. The strange clown's journey that ensues entails dozens of songs, an orgy, a dream ballet and a film with doll film star and the strangest striptease ever, a whole act in various poetic forms. I could go on, but this is truly a show that must be seen and heard to appreciate its ambitious array of visual surprises that more or less embrace the whole history of the theatrical art and to contemplate the message meaning beneath the surface.

While not perfection in the sense that everything works seamlessly or that the ensemble doesn't have its weak spots, the overall effect is that you've been part of something special. It could just be that the character of Time quoted above has it right: " This play may last the rest of your life."

The Lily's Revenge a musical in four acts by Taylor Mac
Music by Rachelle Garniez
Directed by Paul Zimet, Rachel Chavkin, Faye Driscoll, Aaron Rhyne, David Drake and Kristin Marting.
Music direction, Matt Ray.
Cast: Miss Bianca Leigh (Time, Stepmother),Taylor Mac (Lily), Amelia Zirin-Brown (Bride Deity), James Tigger! Ferguson (The Great Longing
Ensemble: World Famous Bob, Edith Raw, Kayla Asbell, Heather Christian, Matthew Crosland, Machine Dazzle, Kristine Haruna Lee, Ellen Maddow, Glenn Marla, Muriel Miguel, Frank Paiva, Tina Shepard, Rae C. Wright, Salty Brine, Daphne Gaines, Ikuko Ikari, Barbara Lanciers, Kim RosenVanessa Anspaugh, Jonathan Bastiani, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Saeed Siamak, Nikki Zialcita, Una Aya Asato, Mieke Duffly.
Sets: Nick Vaughan
Costumes: Machine Dazzle
Lighting: Seth Reiser
Makeup: Derrick Little
Puppets: Emily Decola
Choreography: Julie Atlas Muz
Original drum music: Stefan Schatz
Sound: Matthew Tennie
Video: Aaron Rhyne
Stage manager: Julia Funk
Running time: 4 hours and 50 minutes, with 3 intermissions
From 10/31/09; opening 11/01/09; closing 11/22/09
Tickets: $35.00
Here Arts Center 145 Avenue of the Americas
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer November 5, 2009
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