This distinctive writer and performer looks as he usually does onstage: Mac is not in the business of travesty; on the contrary, he acts with simplicity and sincerity that still allows for ample humor and sharp Brechtian sallies through the fourth wall. Speaking of laughs: Mi Tzu, the grasping landlady of the tobacco shop acquired by Shen Te, and Mrs.
Brecht, Love and Taylor Mac
After knocking on several doors — the funky sets, by Matt Saunders, feature tin-can footlights and nifty little cardboard houses and clouds — he finally persuades the poor but kindly Shen Te to put them up. Once in business, she is harassed by freeloaders exploiting her charitable instincts.
Only by disguising herself as a mercilessly practical-minded male cousin, Shui Ta, can Shen Te bring herself to rebuff the hangers-on and keep her small business from going under. Zipped into a pinstriped suit, with a bowler hat and curlicued mustache, Mr. Their original compositions — Mr.
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The Theatre: “Good Person of Szechwan”
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Modal Trigger. More from: Now you can play polo in a kayak. Happily, there are dozens of other choices that, however political they may also be, seem simply smart and modern, instantly lending personality to characters who can otherwise seem like archetypes.
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And Lisa Kron — whose musical Fun Home is also playing at the Public, two floors below — finds hilarious correlates for the two different characters she plays: The first is a double-bunned Eve Arden; the second a dragon-nailed Boca matron in clashing animal prints. Taylor Mac, in the dual role of Shen Te and Shui Ta, must have been invented, or invented himself, to rescue this play. As a performance artist who works the blurry boundaries of gender, he is, of course, easily able to fulfill the surface requirements of the part.
And because he naturally draws into question the assumption that male and female are two different things, he cracks open a play that sometimes wants us to believe that good and evil are, too.
But it does still feel as if Mac is making a special, nontransferable case for Good Person. Theater that is purely didactic — too much Lehr — often gets stuck at the intersection of different dogmas. One bad idea brings down the whole philosophy. Which is why the quandaries Brecht cared so desperately about, and wanted to investigate through theater, should never be offered simply as math problems, requiring moral protractors and mental exertion. They need glitter, too.