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Friday, 30 September 2011 21:15

Off-Broadway Review - ARIAS WITH A TWIST

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Joey Arias in ARIAS WITH A TWIST Joey Arias in ARIAS WITH A TWIST Photo: Steven_Menendez

That high-priestess of drag, Joey Arias and master puppeteer, Basil Twist's new endeavor, Arias with a Twist at the Abron's Arts Center at the Henry Street Settlement is Hedwig meets Bettie Page, meets Jim Henson (interestingly the former Muppet Creator's daughter has helped to partially fund the project.).  "Ms." Arias first appearance (which takes too long to get to) is atop a possessed inversion table with its own neon ring. The table spins and bobs up and down.   During this opening scene she is being probed by aliens.  Where could you possibly go from here you might be asking?  There is plenty more from this drag diva and puppet-master Twist (who also shares directorial duties).

{module ad_left_body}I only wish that Mr. Twist's directorial efforts were as refined as his puppeteering.  Alas, while Arias with a Twist can be entertaining, it isn't without it's slow and uneven moments.  There is a lot of eye candy here not only from Twist but also from lighting designer Ayuma "Poe" Saegusa, projection designer Daniel Brodie and costume designer Manfred Thierry Mugler.  Unfortunately the show gets so caught up with its own cleverness that Arias frequently seems lost on stage among the spectacle.

After an hilarious tumble from the flying saucer upon which she was being probed, Arias finds herself lying in a jungle on her back, her legs up in the air, surrounded by exotic birds, a boa-constrictor and other animated flora and fauna.  All these creatures come from the creative genius of Mr. Twist, a third-generation puppeteer.  Four marionette orchestra members featured in the show actually belonged to Twist's grandfather and were given to him as a child.  

After landing in the jungle, Arias gets hungry and succumbs to the temptation of a jewel-encrusted magical mushroom that sends her tripping.  And to think, the alien probing was BEFORE the effects of the mushroom.  Before the evening is over Arias finds herself copulating with huge puppet devils with red lit eyes and engorged phallus's, stomping through Manhattan as an Amazon woman towering over the city, and a growling (and occasionally chirping) singer in a posh nightclub a la Billie Holiday (drunk, slurring, and all) backed up by the aforementioned marionette orchestra.

The show includes a mix of original songs by Alex Gifford of the English band Propellerheads as well as some existing songs like the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.  To say that Arias performs all of these numbers with conviction would be a major understatement.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stave off the boredom or fill the holes in this plot-less trip down a trippy rabbit hole.

Arias with a Twist runs through October 15th at the Abrons Art Center at 466 Grand Street.  You can get tickets online at or by calling 212-352-3101.

Additional Info

  • Show Style: Musical
Last modified on Thursday, 09 July 2015 04:38