TAYLOR MAC : HIR
When Taylor Mac came to town last year with a 24 Decade History Of Popular Music, we were at once under judy’s spell, cast aside any aspersions about ticket prices and the like, – what it boils down to is that this individual is an artist with so much to give in terms of contemporary relevance.
So what’s happened here? In Hir we are presented with a conversation that is indeed important, but, as the world continues to turn outside, theatre seems to be stuck on repeat.
Written in response to the Afghan war, part of the issue here could be that the ramifications and effects that this conflict brought with it, were not felt with all the depth of emotion that our American counterparts did.
As a study into the breakdown of the nuclear family, there is nothing in the way of back story offered here which breaks new ground or brings to the fore concepts which are neither confronting nor shocking these days . We are, as it were, now desensitised to such things.
The brooding tension and the back story that is almost painted in, lies under a thin guise of humor, that, to a degree, endears the story of this family to the audience, the father having suffered a stroke, is now turned into not much more than a clownish play thing, in a an attempt by his long suffering wife to claw back control. Their son, having just returned from active service, dishonorably discharged, is thrown head first into a reality he no longer recognizes and their daughter is now going through gender re-assignment. Humor is a powerful dramatic device, but it can be elevated further by what this performance is lacking- that is a similar level of detail applied to darker shade. Here, the violence needs to be amplified, more space needs to be allowed between conversation, more perhaps needs to be left unsaid.
The cast cannot be faulted on their performances, nor can any member of their creative team: they do their best with the limited material at hand. Why is it that we still continually seek work that is made by others, rather than by our own? What is missing in Hir is a tricky thing, because it relates to being more universal but also less astute in its focus – each of the story-lines here are in their own way powerful and emotive, but spend to much time at war with each other to truly portray anything left resolute; post performance.
Not coming without recommendation, Hir should be a work experienced, its a solid piece of theatre, just perhaps not one you would write home about.