“Working catharsis is my art form, and one of the ways I do that is by the time-honored tradition of making something ridiculous…
“My job as a theater artist is to remind people of things they’ve forgotten about, or they’ve dismissed or buried, or other people have buried for them.” — Taylor Mac, PARIS LA*
Mac—an incandescent magpie of modern culture—is a champion of what he calls “authentic failure,” a process where the performer goes out on a limb and stays there:
“There’s something about getting up there, risking, falling flat on your ass, and then picking yourself up, that—when you’re watching it on a stage—is profound.”*
Mac the performer, in his transformative 24-Decade History of Popular Music shows, risks everything for six, twelve, twenty-four hours at a time. Mac the playwright concentrates his gender-queer socialism into two-hour projects and sends his actors out to walk the plank, where they thrive.
HIR—Mac’s 2014 play in its Los Angeles premiere at the Odyssey—is a wonderfully disturbing satire that imagines a long-abused family reaching its greatest potential by taking revenge on the abusive patriarch (Ron Bottitta), who was—according to his wife—another “mediocre straight white man who’s barely lifting a finger but thinks he’s lifting the world.”
Mom (Cynthia Kania)—who spends enriching weekends at the local museum with her daughter-turned-son Max (Puppett)—no longer cooks or cleans, so when soldier son Isaac (Zack Gearing) returns home from the Middle East, he walks into an exploded kitchen-sink drama of familial detritus.
“Hir”—pronounced “here”—is a pronoun that floats between “her” and “his.” HIR, the play, will be on the boards for only six more weeks. so get your tickets now.
Through March 17.
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
2055 South Sepulveda Boulevard, West Los Angeles.
*See “A Time to Be Born: Taylor Mac in conversation with Barlo Perry“, PARIS LA 15 (Spring 2017): 78–85.
From top: Cynthia Kania (left), Ron Bottitta, and Puppett in Hir; Kania, Puppett, and Zack Gearing; Kania; Gearing, Kania, and Puppett; Gearing, Bottitta, and Kania. Photographs by Enci Box.