BOTTOM LINE: An epic five hour theatrical event that blends a ton of theatrical styles and creates a theatrical experience that is truly unique.
The Lily's Revenge is Taylor Mac's huge theatrical undertaking that is part Noh play, part verse play, part vaudevillian sketch, part performance art instillation, part puppet theatre, part burlesque, part children's theatre on acid, and part dance piece that combines together to create a five hour theatrical extravaganza that employs six directors and an ensemble of more than 40 performers and musicians. The theatrical piece tells the story of a Lily who desperately wants to become a man so that he can marry his true love, The Bride. Along the way he meets a breathy of eccentric character including a cracked out Greek chorus, a bride and groom, an evil Curtain, some glammed-out flowers, pissed off bumble bees, and The Pope just to name a few.
All right, I'm going to be honest, I did not know just how epic this evening was going to be when I arrived at HERE Arts Center. When I discovered that it was going to be a FIVE HOUR EVENING, I'm not going to lie, I was a little taken aback. That being said, I still had a pretty fantastic time at The Lily's Revenge. The time actually goes by pretty quickly because you are constantly bombarded with something new and exciting. There are three intermissions that are each at least 25 minutes. But the show doesn't really stop. You are asked to go down to the dressing rooms and hang out and/or dance where there is a spinning disco ball, watch videos of a dog wedding, take wedding photos yourself, watch video installations, decorate your face, and see really interesting almost Brechtian takes on classic Jazz and Pop songs. My favorite being Amelia Zirin-Brown AKA Lady Rizo's sultry, kick ass rendition of Hit Me Baby ONe More Time that was reminiscent of an old school French cabaret performer and was definitely a highlight of the entire evening. If not of those activities sound like your bag, there is a pretty tasty cafe that offers some healthy meals and snacks to keep you fueled throughout the evening. There is also a small bar with wine, beer, champagne and a few alcoholic options. Warning: The bar/cafe only takes cash and there is not an ATM to be found for blocks, so be sure to bring plenty of cash.
The intermissions are so long because the theatrical space and seating arrangement completely changes for each act. You are asked to take all your belongings with you after each intermission, so don't bring all your earthly possessions with you to the theatre because you will hate your life a little bit if you have to keep up with them all evening. It's a really cool experience to come into the theatre and be greeted with an entirely new setup. You get to meet new people that you are sitting next to and this unique theatrical convention creates a true "community." By the end of the evening, you feel that you have gotten to know some of these people and you share a sense of accomplishment that you have experienced this evening together.
Taylor Mac, who wrote this theatrical journey, is quirky, campy and loveable as the title character. His sweet voice is almost haunting in the many original songs that he handles with great ease. Again, I was in love with Amelia Zirin-Brown AKA Lady Rizo whose sexy warble sounds as if it is flowing out of an authentic 1920s gramophone. She is so unique and this is a perfect vehicle to showcase her unique abilities. Another performer who is uniquely showcases is James Tigger Ferguson who portrays "The Great Longing" who personifies himself in the form of a walking talking curtain. Ferguson is NY's premiere Boylesque performer. That's right Boylesque. Who knew? His very inventive curtain strip tease is pretty creative and truly unlike anything I have every seen. I also thoroughly enjoyed the forth act, which was told as a film shot with action figures.
So, all I can say is that The Lily's revenge is a fresh theatrical experience that is unlike anything that you have probably seen. There's something for everyone. That being said, it is not for the theatrical novice. If you are a member of MoMA and The Guggenheim and love the work of say Matthew Barney, you will flip over The Lily's Revenge. It's lofty downtown theatre that pushes the envelope of theatrical conventions and social norms in smart and inventive manner. I'm interested to see what Taylor Mac will produce in the future. This piece is an experience. You will talk about it for a long time after you leave the theatre. If nothing else, you can always say, "Hey, remember that time that we saw that three hour play downtown." If you are looking for something truly different to do this weekend. I think this is most definitely your solution. Get a group of adventurous friends together, bring your cash, have a few cocktails before, and go see The Lily's Revenge.
(The Lily's Revenge plays at the HERE Arts Center located at 145 Sixth Avenue, one block below Spring Street. It plays through November 22 Fridays Through Sunday at 6:30pm. It runs about Five Hours with three 25 minute intermissions. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at www.here.org or by call ing 212-352-3101 or at the HERE Box Office after 4PM until curtain. For more information visit www.here.org)