by Steven Pisano
If you haven't been following the career of Taylor Mac, you've been missing out on one of the most protean theater artists of our time. Winner of a MacArthur Genius Grant, International Ibsen Award and Pulitzer Prize nomination, Mac achieved wide praise for 2016's tour-de-force “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music,” not in the least because it was 24 hours long (with short allowances for food, drink, and bathroom breaks). One could fill stadiums with the number of people still kicking themselves for missing that show!
Now, Mac has brought a new opera, “The Hang” to HERE, written with the composer Matt Ray and directed by Niegel Smith. Originally scheduled to be presented as part of the cancelled Prototype Festival of new opera, “The Hang” is not as ambitious in scale as some of Mac's previous work, clocking in at a mere 100 minutes. But, as a celebration of live musical theater in all its bristling, visceral glory—music, lyrics, sets, make-up, and costumes—this “jazz opera" will make you ecstatic to be back in the theater. It is a love letter to the act of creation itself, and to how essential it is that we all “hang” together.
“The Hang” recounts the persecution and ultimate death of the famous Greek philosopher Socrates. But don’t be misled. This is not a classics lesson brought to life (even if knowing something about Aristophanes will elicit snickers from those in the know). What will delight you is the sheer, queer exuberance of this outstanding production.