Taylor Mac at Lift Festival – review
Lift Festival is the most positively, affirmatively named festival that Taylor Mac has ever performed in, Judy (Taylor’s preferred pronoun) went on to list ‘Under Construction’, ‘Under the Radar’ , ‘Arts and Ideas’ as the more downbeat and earnest type of festivals and events that Judy normally plays. This element of lifting ran throughout the show at the Hackney Empire with Taylor taking us on a shamanic radical faery journey that aimed to leave consumerism, sexism, racism and many other ‘isms’ behind and to take the audience into a bright future through a series of ritualistic audience participation exercises.
The show had a fabulously louche backing track of 20th century hits from iconoclast performers such as Tiny Tim, Nina Simone and Patty Smith, all sung by Taylor and accompanied by the super laid-back band. Each song gave emphasis to the total performance and, of course, were sung with Taylor’s unique delivery.
The highlight was watching Taylor getting out into the audience and selecting members to illustrate Judy’s thoughts on pronouns, patriarchy and panting – all accompanied with eye-rolling, perfect comedic comments and soulful reflection from Judy giving the show a lightness of touch that can only be judged by a performer who knows how to effortlessly guide an audience through complex imagery.
Through interaction and participation Judy aimed to make the audience and the individuals in it into a community. The objective was clearly important to Judy who commented that through the ephemeral nature of art and performance communities could be made in terms of bringing people together, getting people to talk to one another, exchanging ideas and making continued contact outside the confine of the theatre.
This show is a prequel to a much more ambitious piece of work that Taylor is working on that involves singing 240 songs in 24hrs and tracing popular music from the 19th century through to the 21st. An incredible feat and in July of this year Taylor will be attempting to complete this dream with a supporting cast of performers, actors and dancers. All of it to be garnished with exhaustion, confusion, and super human amounts of energy as promised by Taylor. There is the hope that Judy will be able to perform some of this show in the UK in the near future. Fingers crossed this spectacle makes it to these shores soon.
A beautifully judged show by an immensely talented performer, who is in love with London and wants to make a connection with the city. We salute you Taylor Mac and assure you that you are loved back.
Fantastic that ‘Lift Festival’ started on such a great high and filled the glorious Empire, I look forward to rest of the programme and especially to seeing Neil Bartlett’s new work STELLA.
LOVE ART MAGIC