The Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook, or Comparison is Violence

Spiegeltent, Aotea Square, Auckland

07/03/2011 - 10/03/2011

Auckland Arts Festival 2011

Production Details

The gloriously larger-than-life ukelele-playing, gender-bending Taylor Mac makes his New Zealand debut with the wonderfully mind-blowing The Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook, or Comparison is Violence

International sensation Taylor Mac, making his New Zealand debut, has drawn from the traditions of drag and performance art to create a unique style that combines dramatic flair, searing satire and poignant honesty. 

Taylor Mac’s latest show was born after dozens of reviewers commented that he was a cross between David Bowie’s alter ego and the cult figure Tiny Tim.  Being a queen who can take a hint, Taylor Mac took those reviewers on. 

The Ziggy Stardust and Tiny Tim Songbook, or Comparison is Violence is an engagingly witty conversation about the darker side of comparison in which Mac sings his way through the entire Ziggy Stardust album and reinterprets hits from the falsetto-voiced ukulele player Tiny Tim.

"To borrow a Bowie song title, he is a Starman. Wickedly funny but never malicious, he literally bounces light – and enlightenment – out into the audience." – Times (UK) 

Spiegeltent, Aotea Centre  
Mon 7 Mar, 7.30pm
Tue 8 – Thu 10 Mar, 9.30pm 

Inspirational, persuasive, fearless and flippant with songs

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 08th Mar 2011

Enlightening and refreshingly frank, Taylor Mac is an artist who transcends a multitude of performance-genres as he sings songs (mostly) by David Bowie and 1960s phenomenon Tiny Tim.

He flits at rapid pace from philosopher, poet, raconteur and actor to warm inviting host, brilliant inspirational singer then dirty gossip, demanding life-counsellor, cerebral guide and confrontational humorist. He is absolutely self-defining. 

Simply put, he’s an intelligent man and a cover artist with his own style of Drag, who chats about his experiences and world-views between songs. 

However, there is nothing simple about how this performer’s complex fascinating brain is wired. After his sudden entrance, which feels like he’s gate crashing his own show, we engage in nearly two hours of philosophy and extraordinary talent.

Looking like a beautiful butterfly let loose at a disco party, sequined glittery Taylor Mac and his casually dressed unassuming pianist Lance Horne, weave together seamlessly as a musical cabaret act.

Horne, whose sheet music consists of little more than a few chords scribbled on scrap paper, is the perfect accompanist who stays connected to his lead man’s ever-changing journey, without missing a beat. It takes great skill to back a man who is prone to reciting sonnets in the middle of ‘Suffragette City’; break into ‘Tip-Toe Through The Tulips’ during another Bowie; and in general, go off on a tangent or even completely change course mid-song – and stay on cue.

As Mac says at one point in the night, “Ah! We started with Shakespeare and now we are making our way down to Britany Spears.”

While there is plenty of fun, jokes and mockery in Taylor Mac’s material, his humour is fearless as well as flippant, so be prepared for unashamed Pope/bible/Texas-bashing (for example) especially when he shares some of the feedback his followers have posted on Facebook.

If you want to get the most from Taylor’s offerings, be prepared to connect and make the night a two-way thing. Taylor sees his show as the start point for communities coming together (you, the audience) to dialogue about the views he puts forward – like the alternative title to his show suggests: “comparison is violence.”  

He gives much food for thought, (even a demonstration involving two willing couples) and while at times, some may find his fascinating reasoning between songs is intricate to the point of distraction, there is no doubt Taylor Mac has the power to persuade as well as entertain.  

Auckland’s Aotea Square is looking dynamic and intriguing folks – the only thing missing last night was a big fat crowd. While understandable, given where our country is at right now, Auckland’s Arts Festival is nearly at the half way point and will be over soon. Taylor Mac’s show in the Spiegeltent is a good antidote if you are looking to escape the prominent focus of life for a couple of hours. 
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