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An Impersonation of Angels, or The Enigma of Desire 

A little poetic inspiration and a lot of goofy impersonation of the surreal

Wednesday, Mar 10 2004
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An Impersonation of Angels started four years ago as Salvador Dali Talks to the Animals -- Dan Carbone's teeming life of Dali, performed in the manner of a surreal painting. Audience members who have already seen the new version may not believe me when I say it's more coherent than the old one, but it is. Impersonation follows Dali through life and death, as he learns to be an artist and ages into a melancholy self-caricature. He's pursued by someone we meet in the first scene, "Dead Baby Salvador in Limbo" -- a baby in frilly pajamas played by the bearded, stentorian-voiced Paul Gerrior. It seems Dali's mother miscarried a child named "Salvador Dali" before the great painter was born. This Baby Salvador haunts the artist with questions of life, death, and identity. The play has flashes of pure brilliance: When Carbone is good, he's both hilarious and sublime. But a lot of it is still disjointed and frustrating. Christian Cagigel stands out in the cast as Federico García Lorca, giving an eloquent speech about poetic inspiration, or duende; later he dies with harrowing musicality as a bull, stabbed in the back with colorful red picas, his masked head resting on a silver platter while Dali talks to his treacherous wife Gala about evil and love and a maternal woman chirps like a bird in a tree. These rhythmic, musical, choreographed scenes are the strongest: They have duende, while the rest of the play shambles through mere silliness, or a goofy impersonation of the surreal.

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