Review: "Twisted" Fills the Exploitation-Comedy-with-Music Need You May Not Have Known You Had
Written by Joel Greenhouse
Directed by Joe John Battista
Music by Peter W. Dizzoza and Joe John Battista
Lyrics by Joel Greenhouse
Presented by Theater for the New City Executive Director Crystal Field
115 1st Ave., Manhattan, NYC
September 28-October 15, 2023
|Andrew Ryan Perry, Xue Yun Zhang, Tony Del Bono, Christine Weiss Beidel, Brian Belovitch, Robert Z Grant, Penny Balfour, Larry Fleischman, Evan Laurence, Maude Lardner Burke, Sevin Ceviker, JC Augustine. Photo: Hillary Wyatt.|
As these narrative arcs bend towards one another, Twisted has a gleeful time thumbing its nose at taboo and decorum, and lest we take any of it too seriously, it even punctuates some of its punchlines with drum accents from its live band (Peter W. Dizzoza on piano, Kevin Murray on drums, Joe John Battista on guitar, and Ron Raymond on bass). The principal characters each get a chance to serenade the audience in funny, character-revealing musical pastiches, and the set design makes effective, sometimes hilarious, use of silhouette work as part of its combination of built and projected elements. In addition to strange screams and shady goings-on, the Monteblanc de Lacroix household is full of enjoyably vivid portrayals of its confidently aberrant characters: Grant plays funny and sinister equally well, while Perry makes a great foil as the put-upon Sinclair, and Belovitch paints overbearing mother Lavinia in delightfully melodramatic strokes. Phoebe's bottled rage, courtesy of an excellent Burke, suggests a parallel with Sinclair, similarly mistreated by his blood relations, and is counterbalanced by Balfour's more calculated, yet sometimes sympathetic, conniving. A range of secondary characters, from Tony Del Bono's unsavory priest to Sevin Ceviker and Xue Yun Zhang's dancers, of both the gentleman's club and ritualistic varieties, round out this colorfully irreverent world.
True to its name, Twisted includes a satisfying final twist to cap off an evening that will be great fun for anyone with an appreciation for the outré cinematic oddities of yesteryear. Any ancient Egyptian reptile god would be more than pleased with Twisted's offering of uninhibited unruliness.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards