Telling tales in possibly the most flamboyant way imaginable, Drew Taylor adds incredible flare to his performance as Markus Makavellian at this year’s Glasgay! festival. A mixture of stories, told in flowing metrical dialogue, dip from streams of consciousness to structured word play to magnificent effect.
His show, International Order, seems to be a retort to the compartmentalisation of lifestyles in a decade dominated by media obsession and emotional objectification. The steps taken towards the event, billed as ‘performance poetry’, were naturally tentative — it seems to be a common mindset that these kinds of things can go either way.
For those who have not experienced performance art of any kind before, it is certainly an unnerving concept. The lack of parameters denote a free form in which all features of a person’s self can be displayed, and unsurprisingly, this kind of environment can lead to self-indulgence of the most tedious kind.
It’s apparent from the outset that Markus Makavellian doesn’t want us to be alienated from him, despite the outlandish, pseudo-military drag outfit. A scatological opening segment makes it clear that we are all human and function in the same way, and from this moment on, audience and performer are equal.
Leading on from this, a combative approach to the issues of love, lust and self-validation throughout Taylor’s life lends itself to the debris surrounding the stage, which seems to be representative of a battlefield. During the trio of monologues entitled “Do you like being the man now?”, muffled sounds of war play over the speakers; pieces which seem to illustrate the significance of ‘the other’ in the life of Drew Taylor.
The vignettes serve as a template for his life, in which he is found to be living vicariously through others and repeating certain routines. This is made clear in the dialogue, whereby times, places and images are used to different effects through the use of repetition — although how closely the persona of Markus Makavellian mirrors that of performer Drew Taylor is somewhat unclear.
The observations in the show are often that of a wide-eyed child, whilst at the same time knowing and cynical. Some of the stories border on a more solipsistic side of Markus, which perhaps is closer to the man himself. A person seemingly ruled by relationships — and bruised as a result of some — is very easy to empathise with, so it is difficult to be critical of a performance made up of so much deeply personal material.
There are funny moments too, and it seemed as though their purpose was to offset the serious tone that seemed to loom when subjects became too weighty. This was particularly apparent at the end of the show when, after a beautiful ode to a loved one, a short comic ditty caps off the evening, which seemed to cheapen the sentiment that preceded it.
Although this approach seemed to lessen the performance for me, to a certain extent it seemed necessary, as some of the audience, beer in hand, had come to laugh — and indeed the observational wit of Markus Makavellian’s world is truly entertaining.
International Order is a thoroughly engaging and at times very moving experience — and makes a terrific addition to the already strong Glasgay! festival line-up.