Arias with a Twist
Wed Jun 25 2008
Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5
In 1950s science-fiction paperbacks, a resourceful hero could save the galaxy by improvising a super-potent weapon with a tin can, an elastic band and an old battery. In their new collaboration Arias with a Twist, performer Joey Arias and puppeteer Basil Twist essentially pull off the same trick: They’ve hatched a completely delirious revue halfway between Busby Berkeley and Pee-wee’s Playhouse out of felt and strings, a handful of songs, and a lot of loose screws.
The narrative, if you can call it that, is as pulpy as one of the aforementioned books, starting with Arias’s grand entrance: Tightly encased in a Thierry Mugler fetish corset and strapped onto a lazy Susan–cum–gynecological table, the chanteuse belts out Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” while being probed by aliens. The show only gets more inventively nutty from there. After waking up in the jungle and crooning “Jungle of Eden,” penned by Propellerheads’ Alex Gifford (the songs are all backed by tapes), he goes on to ingest a special mushroom (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”). Wacky mayhem ensues, including a close encounter of the blow-job kind with a demon, and the deep-throated singer somehow ends up in a 1930s nightclub, performing one of his trademark Billie Holiday tunes with a crack quartet of papier-mâché musicians. “Spoiler alert!,” you might whine. Rest assured that unlike too many theater evenings out, the plot’s decidedly not the thing here: What Arias and Twist have fashioned is no less than an eye-popping, delightfully transgressive lysergic fantasia.