‘Hir’ entertains with dysfunction

It felt like vintage Magic Theatre at the world premiere of “Hir,” Taylor Mac’s funny, sad and appalling (in a good way) new play.

All present and accounted for are the terminally dysfunctional family — complete with loopy Mom, two radically opposite brothers and the mentally (and physically) challenged Dad — and the horrific family secrets, brutally exposed.

Mac, who wrote the dazzling extravaganza “The Lily’s Revenge,” which the Magic produced three seasons ago, goes for something completely different in this engrossing, if slightly overlong, comic drama, which he labels, quite appropriately, as “absurd realism.”

Each member of the middle-class Connor family is in psychic pain.

Older brother Isaac (a wiry, completely convincing Ben Euphrat), a war veteran dishonorably discharged from the Marines, vomits compulsively (especially, and quite hilariously, when Mom turns on the blender) as a side effect of his military job picking up exploded guts.

He has just arrived home with his duffel bag desperate for peace and succor, only to find the house in absolute chaos and his old room no longer his.

Cavalier and cheery Mom (a brilliantly inventive Nancy Opel) has given up cooking, cleaning and otherwise adhering to her prescribed housewifely role. Determinedly liberated, she is trying to forget her horrific past life.

She’s in charge these days because violent, abusive Dad (Mark Anderson Phillips, impressive in a role that’s vastly different from the characters he usually plays) had a stroke.

Humiliated and mistreated by now-dominant Mom, who sprays Dad’s face with water every time he tries to utter a word, he’s a pathetic, clown-like figure, a prisoner in his own partly paralyzed body. In fact, Mom actually dresses him up in clown makeup, fright wig and a tiny nightgown.

And Isaac’s little sister, Maxine (an elfin, appealing Jax Jackson), is now on “’mones” and is female-to-male transgender Max.

Strident about his newfound identity, he has convinced himself and Mom that he’s on the cutting edge of a gender-free societal paradigm. In his lexicon, “his” and “her” are now “hir,” pronounced “here,” and “he” and “she” are “ze”— but ze is just as lonely and lost as the others.</p>

Director Niegel Smith has found just the right balance of humor and pathos to bring forth the full dimensionality of all the characters. He and the excellent ensemble dig deep to reveal the poignancy within Mac’s bizarre and utterly entertaining play.



Presented by Magic Theatre

Where: Building D, Fort Mason, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street., S.F.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, closes Feb. 23

Tickets: $20 to $60

Contact: (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.orgartsHirMagic TheatreTaylor Mac

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

SFMTA Board passes ‘clean’ sales tax ballot measure to fund Caltrain

After a weeks-long impasse, tri-county leadership appears to have reached a compromise

Struggling Chinatown restaurants get help moving business outdoors

A total of $25,000 will be distributed to assist with costs of Shared Spaces program

Nomination delays, vacancies impair SFMTA board’s ability to vote

Supervisors to consider mayor’s nominees on Aug. 10

District 7 race leads supervisor contests in campaign contributions

The race to replace outgoing Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee has… Continue reading

Jones Street getting more pedestrian space after months of community pressure

Pedestrians on Jones Street will have more room to walk as early… Continue reading

Most Read