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Ergo Phizmiz - Arcola Theatre, London, 16./8/2015

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 14 / 9 / 2015

Ergo Phizmiz - Arcola Theatre, London, 16./8/2015


Maarten Schiethart enjoys avant-garde musician Ergo Phizmiz's offbeat and surreal opera about Salvador Dali at the Arcola Theatre in London

The composer and pianist-compère of the 'Gala' opera, Ergo Phizmiz, used the stage of the intimate Arcola Theatre, a former paint factory, for a cabaret performance in the style of Berlin pub culture of the 1920s. It was based on an encounter between Salvador Dali's wife with a leading star from the 1970's box office buster 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. On a Persian carpet. At the start Dali is wheeled on to the stage by his well-rounded Playboy bunny type nurse and stays put next to a lamp, coughs a lot, nods off, wakes up and rings his bell, as if announcing each next act of what Ergo Phizmiz has dared to call an opera. While not exactly sleazy or saucy by today's standards, it lacks though the choreography of opera. Gala Dali is portrayed as a nymphomaniac 70-year old with a nearly dead husband, though in fact Salvador died seven years after Gala. It's where Phizmiz has messed up the chronology. Salvador wasn't a wheelchair skeleton at the time of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. Far from it. Once I had come to accept that 'Gala' was an unpretentious and a rather cheap mockery, it became far more enjoyable, with its climax coming in a scene which could have been from 'The Great Gatsby'. Half a dozen betty boops flocked the stage and chatted, sang and buzzed. Phizmiz himself did a great little tap-dance towards the end. Trying to click his heels a few feet above the floor, Ergo successfully managed to do this ; this proved to be the priceless moment, after he had spent 35 minutes sitting on his stool at his shiny black piano. On the way out, the Arcola Theatre staff were ever so helpful. Sat between gentrification projects, you could decide between finding the next bus stop or tube station. Meanwhile the terraces just outside showed to be too alluring. Closed off to cars. Newly planted trees. A fine evening.

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The Peacock (2014)
Offbeat and eccentric but immediately appealing rare studio album from under-rated singer-songwriter, Ergo Phizmiz
Eleven Songs (2012)
Late (2010)
Things to Do and Make (2010)
Nose Points In Different Directions (2007)

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