Five unseen puppeteers swirl countless pieces of fabrics, feathers, fishing lures, flashlights, glitter, dyes, plastic, vinyl and bubbles in all shapes and sizes, creating a dream-like world of imagination and surreal storytelling. For the first time in New York, 'Symphonie Fantastique' features live piano accompaniment by Christopher O'Riley.
"What you are watching never intrudes on or obscures what you are listening to; the discrete sensory experiences become, uncannily, one and the same...Mr. Twist’s rendering of Berlioz transcends such problems of representation. Instead, his terpsichorean feathers and fabrics hypnotize us into a state that approaches synesthesia, in which we seem to be hearing with our eyes, or seeing with our ears." Full Review
"Pure imagination...'Symphonie Fantastique' resists attempts to tack meaning onto its glorious unreason, making it still one of the most original things to come out of the New York theater two decades after it first emerged...With no characters, no story, and no recognizable symbols, 'Symphonie Fantastique' holds us transfixed...When so much theater in New York remains aggressively story-driven and rooted in realism, 'Symphonie Fantastique' dares to be different, and succeeds fantastically." Full Review
“Unique, dazzling, and entrancing theatrical encounter...An epic, five movement autobiographical meditation on the composer’s love obsession...A mélange of materials...all moving and swirling about, manipulated by five unseen puppeteers in ecstatic choreography...Trance-like aquatic dance exquisitely timed to Berlioz’s dynamic score, producing an effect at once whimsical and hallucinatory...Rarest of theatrical offerings...An exciting and original artistic achievement.” Full Review
"A unique journey...with a level of physicality so precise, you don't even see it...Inside a 1,000-gallon water tank, colors and shapes come alive as five unseen puppeteers move and manipulate objects of varying sizes...Set to the sonorous score of Berlioz's 'Symphonie Fantastique'...Gorgeous, eye-popping images. It's art in motion, performance art combined with music, visual art, and whimsy. And it is simply breathtaking." Full Review
“The puppetry is a gorgeous visual representation of the Berlioz music that accompanies it...It’s delightful to see how Twist and his team choose to captures moments of whimsy, passion, and anger with their impressive array of puppets...Twist shows great respect for the intelligence of his audience: he doesn’t feel the need to lead them by the hand and drum his themes into them. He has good reason to be confident that his audience will gladly follow wherever he leads.” Full Review
"HERE, the adventurous performing and visual arts institution, has brought back Basil Twist's hit 'Symphonie Fantastique' which was created at HERE in 1998. 'Symphonie Fantastique' is probably Twist's most famous and in-demand work, although he has produced better work, most particularly in partnership with Paula Vogel ('The Long Christmas Ride Home') and Joey Arias ('Arias with a Twist'), but judging from the sold-out house HERE's decision to revive it is warranted." Full Review
"Twist's magnificent revival...Neither theater nor a concert recital. The closest description might be 'performance art, but the best description could simply be 'stunning'...Visual eye candy...Pieces of cloth, plastic, feathers, and wires are dragged through the water to create mesmerizing images...A glorious score...It's hard not to fall into a hypnotic trance while watching. Between the sight and sound, it's an irresistible treat for the senses." Full Review
"It's difficult to describe what one sees and experiences...moving fabrics, feathers, sparkling gem-like items, bubbles, and cut-outs. These shapes take on a fascinating life of their own...A totally abstract piece and can be whatever your imagination suggests. There is no story...Because you don't see what makes the shapes move, there is a magical aspect to the performance...O'Riley played the music with full, rich, thunderous tones in a wonderfully arresting, melodramatic presentation." Full Review
"A team of five puppeteers...Don wetsuits and soar over the tank, dipping pieces of fabric, feathers, and tinsel in conversation with the music to create a complex, intricate choreography...A hypnotic, phantasmagorical display...Audiences can make of it whatever they like. They can choose to find a story, or they can simply sit back and enjoy it on a purely sensory level...A uniquely magical experience, one perhaps best consumed with a mind open to beauty for beauty's sake." Full Review
"The dazzling show is a 55-minute live performance...The creaturely inhabitants of Twist’s tank, all the product of his foraging and designing and careful manipulation, keep us enthralled for an hour...If you have never seen 'Symphonie,' find a way to go...And consider yourself lucky to be sharing your walk on this planet with Twist and his fluent crew." Full Review
"Twist provides a remarkably well-crafted artistic creation. It also happens to be-I hate to say it-dramatically dull…In 'Symphonie Fantastique'…we discover how a variety of fabrics, feathers, and other items can be put to aesthetic use when manipulated under water, beautifully lit, and accompanied by powerful music…'Symphonie Fantastique' is either a piano concert accompanied by charmingly choreographed, abstract images, or vice-versa…It is, however, by no means a drame fantastique." Full Review
"Mr. O’Reily is a masterful performer, but I still missed the complex quality of sound required to experience the full effect of the symphony...The production does, however, preserve the essence of 'Symphonie Fantastique,' specifically in its relentless experimental spirit...Every single technical aspect of the show is impressive, but it does not seem to resonate with me beyond being an exciting way to experience Berlioz’s music." Full Review
See it if If you love Disney's "Fantasia," then this is the show for you! Incredible abstract puppetry. Christopher O'Riley's pianism is brilliant.
Don't see it if You want a show with words. Hate music.
See it if you want to see a visual wonder, like Fantasia come to life. The water puppetry is jaw-dropping, like nothing I've ever seen. Incredible.
Don't see it if you want story. There's an emotional through line but nothing approaching a narrative.
See it if you are looking for a very unique and different type of show. I would say close your eyes and enjoy the music, but you will miss out..
Don't see it if you are looking for something with words. This is a visual experience.
See it if Fun to watch the 55 min show with shapes moving around w/man playing piano. Take the free backstage tour afterward to see how it's all done!
Don't see it if You don't like walking backstage to spoil the "magic" of how this was done (but this was a really cool tour: line moves quickly!)
See it if love music & visual art even if you usually don't like puppet shows - the puppets here are wonderful fabrics, feathers; stage is a fish tank
Don't see it if if you need dialogue or a story and won't be carried away by just watching the visual display while listening to Berlioz being played live
See it if You like classical music, ballet, puppetry, or seeing how the sausage is made(the backstage tour after is almost as great as the show).
Don't see it if You want a story or human performers (other than the pianist). You hate classical music.
See it if Unique. A tour de force return to Basil Twist's great underwater epic! Marvelous abstract aquarium puppetry. Surprisingly emotional.
Don't see it if You hate Berlioz and would be bored by 55 minutes of dancing feathers and shimmering, balletic fabric. But a true original.
See it if you're interested in visual art, puppetry, or classical music.
Don't see it if you come to Show-Score for plays only; if you need a plot, story or narrative to make your evening worthwhile.
See it if An imaginative image show with beautiful grand piano playing. Highly difficult to perform, they allow you backstage to see how it's done.
Don't see it if You need a storyline. Not wanting to relax and let the beauty bathe over you.
See it if you like visually arresting, creative shows, don't need a plot. Who knew watching dishrag in a fish tank could be so incredible!
Don't see it if You need a plot, or grand production values.
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