Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge lights up Magic Theatre with earthy flower power
A spirited platinum blonde called the Card Girl (Kat Wentworth) corrals the audience for no less than three intermissions, designed to encourage mingling, fraternizing, and face-time with fellow audience members and cast alike. (Meanwhile, Andrew Boyce's sets and the seating arrangements are rapidly and inventively rearranged.) The intermissions come complete with an optional dinner, dance parties, songs "flushed from the show" performed in and around the lavatories, and other sideshow offerings (solid advice from a garrulous sock puppet, for instance, or a glad-handing glory hole) — all in compact 15-minute increments.
Each act has its own particular character as it advances the merrily convoluted plot. Act II (directed by Marissa Wolf) is set in the round in a flowerbed and features a verse-off between Lily and assorted garden varieties. Act III is a "dream ballet" directed and choreographed with inspired exuberance by Erika Chong Shuch, in which a hilarious second pair of marriage hopefuls (Joe Estlack and Rowena Richie) devolve, amid an onset of "options" and a frenetic set of macabre bridesmaids, into a comically horrifying orgy of indulgence. In Act IV we enter a virtual realm called Ecuador (long story), with animated video sequences to live voice-overs directed with wry sophistication by Erin Gilley.
Finally, as the wedding party assembles amid the "divine madness" of Act V (directed by Jessica Holt) and ceremonial noises erupt under direction of the domineering Curtain, the Revolutionary Flowers, having infiltrated the proceedings, suddenly burst forth from low-rent disguises and storm the stage, while an enormous papier-mâché turd floats across the stage ahead of a dyspeptic visit by the Pope and a giant black Tick holds the White Rose captive and — I wasn't sure what the hell was going on by this point, to be honest. But as a debauched melee ensues, it's pretty clear things are tending toward one hell of a climax. It's all followed by a denouement too. This featuring an address by Mac, now in immaculate dress, the details of which are too charmingly candid to want to relate here. Better you see and hear for yourself.
The five-petaled Lily is most certainly the star of the show, but Mac is also a generous performer, giving ample space for his talented collaborators to shine. If some of the best moments are naturally centered on Mac's riveting presence, the sweetness and childlike impetuosity in his endearingly comic character, and not least his enthralling power as a singer, there are many more highlights to be had, big and small, among the general bloom.
THE LILY'S REVENGE
Tues–Sat, 7 p.m.; Sun, 2:30 p.m.;
Through May 22; $30–$75
Fort Mason Center
Bldg. D, Third Floor, SF
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