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Comparison Is Violence, Arched, Glasgow

There are drag queens, and then there’s New York’s Taylor Mac.

A shiny-spangled, radical talent who can drolly drawl “I think – therefore I glam,” and then proceed to illuminate cunningly assorted spooky, problematic and ridiculous aspects of modern life by virtue of his mordantly witty drag personna.

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This latest excursion finds Mac, riotously sequinned from head-to-toe and with a scandalous red wig, mischievously serving up cover versions of other people’s songs - the full title of the show extends to “… or the Ziggy Stardust meets Tiny Tim Songbook”. These two are the reference points frequently invoked in reviews keen to niche Mac and his performances. Bowie’s Ziggy? Doubtless on account of the glitzy costumes. Tiny Tim ? Well, the falsetto-voiced eccentric did play the ukelele, but in truth his novelty act was in a totally different camp from the one Mac inhabits.

So, in between songs, he snipes with gleeful malevolence at the odious nature of comparisons and rails with inventive invective at how comparisons gnaw away at one’s sense of self. And then, backed by Lance Horne on keyboards, he puts his own, highly individual stamp on the Bowie songs and takes Starman, Lady Stardust, Rock’n’Roll Suicide and Suffragette City into another mind-blowing dimension. There’s drama in the delivery, but it’s rooted in a profound understanding of what it means to be – as Mac is – from the planet Gender-Bender Artist in a world where “different” is not always a kind comparison. His revelatory closing take on Heroes, so tender and yet achingly resolute, simply makes the heart squeeze.

Star rating: *****

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