writer and performer taylor mac spent the early 2010s developing an epic project, 24 Years of Popular Music, covering 240 years of American history. Mack performed a large excerpt in concert, and then performed the entire Cavoodle as a 246-song ultramarathon on October 8 and 9, 2016. The show occupied Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse for a 24-hour “extreme fairy reality sacrificing ritual” that amounted to a transcendent artistic and political act. (Full disclosure: I was there.)
Now, the HBO documentaries by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Celluloid Closet, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice) show incredible breadth as an interpreter and theater person. It is a necessary summary of Mack’s accomplishments. Cheerful, mischievous and often bitter humor. Key collaborators such as costume designer Machine his Dazzle and make-up his artist Anastasia Durasova also explain what went into their many painstakingly complex creations.
But there are some ambiguities. The film is structured as if it chronicles events in St. Ann’s, including timestamps, but some of the performance footage is actually from Los Angeles. Also, the document doesn’t explain how Mack dealt with the grueling physical demands of the marathon, and the surreal atmosphere that pervaded the Brooklyn venue as time passed and sleep deprivation set in. is also not explained. An integral part of the show, but without input from the participants. It’s a shame, because the event was essentially about building community through time and day and night.
Taylor Mack’s 24-year history in popular music
Unrated. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. Look at Max.