It was undoubtedly clear from the get-go: to see Taylor Mac live on stage, is to be placed in the hands of a master performer. Even before the actual beginning of Mac's TBA contribution, Comparison is Violence, or The Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook, his charisma and charm were on display as he escorted PICA Artistic Director Cathy Edwards onstage for the curtain speech. He smiled, told a joke about how he hated the deflating nature of curtain speeches, but then grounded the moment with a heartfelt thank you to Cathy and the organizers of TBA. The audience was already in awe of him and this brief moment was to set the tone for the rest of the evening. Throughout the performance Taylor Mac would bounce effortlessly from comedy, to seriousness, to belting out Bowie like it was nobody's business, all the while wrapping you around his glittery finger.
I was discussing with a friend also in attendance about how we wished there had been something in the piece that broke from its format. Maybe something theatrical, or stylized, something planned that would drive home the theme Mac wanted us to feel. This never happened though, and I left the Washington High School auditorium feeling like something was missing.
Now this isn't to say that Comparison is Violence, or The Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook is a waste of time, money, or energy. It was very entertaining, and as I mentioned before, Taylor Mac is a masterful performer, that in and of itself is worth the price of admission. You'll laugh, you'll ponder, you'll be moved at times. But not necessarily moved to action or to think too differently about something. Which is what we want out of great art right?
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