Taylor Mac (4 stars)

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This article is from 2006.

Punk, political and satirical, this is a drag show like no other. Taylor Mac’s got luscious lips and long legs, and he can really belt out a song when he wants to. But this flamboyant New Yorker exceeds expectations by busting the boundaries of transgender performance. Mac’s Fringe debut is a taste teaser of his socio-political themed Big Apple shows. And, given that it’s essentially a ‘best of’ routine, his set holds together remarkably well. That’s because, although Mac’s bringing together disparate elements from previous performances (apparently individually themed affairs), his Edinburgh show is well paced with tonal shifts from upbeat to blue and comic to seriously touching that makes the 55 minutes whizz by faster than a Manhattan subway express train.

Appearance-wise, Mac’s a sight for sore eyes. Fright wig, sequin-studded face, ripped fishnets, stairway-to-heaven platforms and a wardrobe of self-designed outfits that marry Marilyn Manson with Lee Bowery - this guy is eccentric eye candy. And his appearance, together with his faux-vaudeville act (which incorporates liberal and dextrous playing of the ukulele), also recalls those London-based Fringe regulars, The Tiger Lillies. Like that music trio, Mac’s an outrageously manic - and maniac - clown.

He gives Fringe stand-ups a good run for their money, too. Combining an endearing line in self-depreciation with a wicked wit and an easy-going stage presence, he seemingly effortlessly charms the crowd. The banter and costume changes string together a number of comic songs. One of them, based on fact we’re told (and you really couldn’t make this stuff up), concerns the unlikely pre-political career as a romance novelist of Dick Cheney’s wife and, even more unbelievably, Saddam Hussein, whose prose transformed the stronghold in which he had thousands of Iraqis tortured into the seductive Castle of the Moon. The song is perhaps the best (though not only) example of the overriding them of Mac’s marvellous show: railing against and ridiculing the pricks. (Miles Fielder)

Baby Belly, 0870 745 3083, until 27 Aug, 8.55pm, £9-£10 (£8-£9).

This article is from 2006.

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