Sunday, November 02, 2008
Arias With A Twist
Except for when he's vocally channeling Billie Holiday with dead-on accuracy, cross-dressed chanteuse Joey Arias can look and sound like the gender-bent answer to Yma Sumac who came from outer space. He's a distinct one-of-a-kind creation whose sounds are often fascinating. In puppetmaster Basil Twist he's found a collaborator whose sensibilities are as distinct as his own, and their creative union has produced a little gem of an evening filled with modestly-scaled theatrical pleasures that delight and tickle the imagination. From Arias' dramatic entrance - bound upright on a metal circle and performing Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" while puppets of aliens gather around him - you're transported to a place you haven't been before, except maybe in the late '70's with Klaus Nomi (who Arias backed way back then). There's a thin narrative thread that I'd prefer wasn't there at all - the show's infrequent spoken segments diminish the oddly magical world of the songs with what feels like old school gay-bar diversion - but essentially the show is an artfully presented, visually entrancing concert as imaginative as it is entertaining.