Man, if we had a dollar for every time we’ve seen a drag queen onstage simulating a three-way with satanic puppets, we’d have… a dollar to loan you. Which would best be applied to the purchase of your mind-altering drug of choice, if youÃ¢Â€Â™re inclined to check out Arias With a Twist, the eye-popping collaboration between two bastions of New York’s avant-garde: cross-dressing chanteuse Joey Arias and experimental puppeteer Basil Twist. Head into Woolly Mammoth stone-cold sober and you too may marvel at the originality of Twist’s visual language, yet also wonder what the point is to all the effort. Arias does have a compelling voice (although his commitment to live performance is undermined by recorded accompaniment), but he’s not always a compelling character. Or a timely one, with flat jokes about whoÃ¢Â€Â™s to blame for the world’s problems (Bush) and why a gay couple he spies in the audience neednÃ¢Â€Â™t worry about Arias exposing their relationship (“Don’t ask, don’t tell”). Granted, the show has been around since 2008, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t adapt to the times. As it is, Arias With a Twist comes up a day late and a dollar short. (Two and a half stars.) Through May 6 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW. Tickets are $35 to $72.50. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.
Reviewed by Jonathan Padget