Poor Joey Arias, a female impersonator here attired in black bra and panties, has just been abducted by aliens. That unfortunate truth takes a while to reveal itself, since the show opens with the sight of a red curtain for a puppet show, which sloooowly rises onto another curtain that slowly parts, revealing yet another curtain … You get the joke. Eventually, we see the Dream Music Orchestra — Basil Twist’s gorgeous puppet musicians. This visage melts into a panorama of the cosmos (video design by Daniel Brodie), a floating spaceship on which we finally meet Mr./Ms. Arias, strapped upside down to a neon hoop and being swiveled and probed. We see the visions dreamt by our semiconscious protagonist: a martini glass floats by, then a decapitated hand with the label “Jimmy Hoffa” before a puppet of Arias plunges and plunges and plunges into the “Jungle of Eden,” a psychedelic pyschosexual collision of leafy plants, a slithering snake and an eventual meeting of Adam and Eve. (Twist did the design, which largely depends on the mystery of hauntingly dim and focused lighting.) The event culminates in the “show” that Arias has been aching to perform, a series of ballads, quite beautifully rendered, and reminiscent of the Henry Mancini era. The piece may take the art of drag into hallucinatory frontiers where no man-woman has gone before, and despite its self-conscious sense of humor, it does all this by ratcheting down camp clichés, and with admirable craft. You almost believe that there’s a point larger than its own artistry. That, of course, is just another hallucination. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; schedule varies; through Dec. 13. (213) 237-2800.

Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Nov. 18. Continues through Dec. 13, 2009

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