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In Full Bloom

The Lily's Revenge: A Review

Forget touring Broadway shows like at The Mahalia Jackson Theatre or divas in concert at The Lakefront Arena, Southern Rep (and many other companies'The Lily’s Revenge is the grandest spectacular available in our city for half the price of such big name shows.


This piece of work, dancing out of the regular category of “play,” will give you all the pomp and song of a musical and the heft and searing power of the darkest melodrama. It’s meta, it’s queer, it’s something that feels like that elusive quality of unique. This rollicking adventure spans five acts, chugging at full speed for four to five hours. It includes a cast of more than 30, strobe lights, smoke and haze, nudity, a wedding, Dirt embodied as a lustrous drag queen, choreographed dance numbers, a talking curtain, elaborate sets and costumes, puppets, a live band, enhancing audio arrangements, an orgy, a runway of personified flowers, a film, “story holes,” audience participation and an ever-changing stage. Act five’s epigraph as written in the playbill is “Weddings are bad community theatre.” This epic, experimental “artgasm” in Marigny warehouse The Den of Muses is certainly not that.  

The Lily's Revenge: A Flowergory Manifold
Where: Den of Muses, Architect St., Marigny (behind Mardi Gras Zone)
When: Oct. 20,21
Tickets: $10-$20
Discretion advised for viewers under 18 due to nudity, sexual content



The Lily’s Revenge is the story of five-petaled Lily’s (Evan Spigelman) journey to wed the Bride Deity (Pandora Gastelum) or to accept its quest to free the flowers from mass production, restore displaced Dirt, while also destroying The Great Longing, a red talking stage curtain who sustains the tyranny of institutionalized nostalgic narrative. The play’s mythology in brief: Time (Emilie Whelan) is mother to The Great Longing (Todd D’Amour) and Dirt (Lee Kyle), her second child whom she favors. Lily must navigate the seductive curtain who keeps minions under his spell of clichés, stock characters, and archetypal constructions like the marriage plot while also feeling the pull of Dirt, representing the here and now, authentic, lived experience. This opposition serves to critique the mass consumption of trite narrative. However, if this all seems too heady, the work is never pretentious because an undercurrent of humor and play keeps the party jumping.


Spigelman’s Lily is just as multifaceted as the manifold in which he romps. His Lily has all the sass and verve of a drag queen, the innocence and hope of a Shakespearean virgin and grit and determination of an epic hero. His energy cannot be snuffed out. Equally mesmerizing is Emilie Whelan’s performance as Time and Wind. Her lecture hall voice is a hilarious parody of the academic elite. with diction alone worth of applause. She’s spry and petite, and though she’s playing such formidable abstractions, Whelan employs her available physicality to convey a much larger presence.


Another standout performance can be found in The Great Longing. As Curtain, D’Amour is confined half the time to a hole through which to stick his head or during the other half is completely nude and standing upright. With most of his body unavailable to use when performing in the tapestry, the devilish goon is still captivating. His facial movement is active and flexible, eyebrows raised extravagantly and eyeballs spinning, all complemented by red-gloved gestural hands. This mischievous villain is later exchanged for a more insidious and volatile interpretation of the same character. D’Amour lent the play a dark intensity and a wide range of how to play the enemy. 


The Lily’s Revenge cannot be missed. Beyond the sheer visual and audio stimulation, nothing short of a dream, the production of Taylor' Mac's work may cause viewers to reevaluate the kind of stories you are told whether in theatre or film or the narratives embedded in culture and traditions. Leaving the theatre, some questions include: Should the stories we tell ourselves be like the manufactured, engineered white rose in the play, planted and plucked for a bouquet. Or should they be more organic and wild like the gang of flowers in the garden? What is that orgiastic satisfaction we derive from a bride and groom scenario? The Lily’s Revenge exposes how confining clichéd narrative can be and opines that the narratives in art and in one’s life can be different and special just as the five-petaled lily. 




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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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