The Walk Across America for Mother Earth
Taylor Mac — the downtown drag artist, playwright, director, clown and absolute master of pastiche — is known for his ability to present Julie Taymor-style theatricality on a shoestring Off-Off-Broadway budget.
Last season, his hit five-hour “The Lily’s Revenge” recounted the unusual fairy tale of a flower that dreams of becoming a human. The spectacle used more than 40 actors and combined countless styles of theatrical performance, film and dance.
“The Walk Across America for Mother Earth,” a key attraction of the Under the Radar Festival, is loosely inspired by Mac’s own experience of joining a ragtag collection of environmental activists who literally walked from the East Coast all the way to Nevada to protest a nuclear testing site.
Mac was 18 at the time and had just dropped out of college. He looks back on the experience as an ascent into maturity in which he fed off his companions’ political ideals but also became aware of their many personal flaws.
The larger-than-life personalities of each activist are elaborately detailed. At first glance, they appear like a chorus line of misfits. Some prime examples include a former member of the Weathermen and a European in rainbow hair. Mac plays the least eccentric character.
The scenery is spare, with just a map to track the group’s progress and some rolling panels. To depict their marching forward, the cast performs a kind of tap dance.
The costumes are wildly exuberant and range from a person playing a giant mound of grass to the increasingly dirty rags worn by the dedicated crew.
Some of the content is pretty gross — including graphic details of dysentery and menstrual cycles — and there isn’t much of an overall plot. But the show examines Mac’s cross-country tour with heart, celebratory spirit, occasional music and bizarre flare.
If you go:
“The Walk Across America for Mother Earth” plays at LaMaMa E.T.C. through Jan. 30., 74A E. Fourth St., 212-352-3101, undertheradarfestival.com.