Off-Broadway Review: WICKED CLONE, OR HOW TO DEAL WITH THE EVIL: THE CINEMA MUSICAL (Indiggo Twins at the John Cullum Theatre)

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by Anna Hulkower on December 24, 2018

in Theater-New York


It’s hard to react to the details of this show with anything but resigned bemusement. So, while some of what I’m about to say may sound like I hated Wicked Clone, let me be clear: It’s top-to-bottom insane, and I loved every minute of it. (Well, every minute might be an exaggeration — with an almost two-hour running time and over twenty songs, it could afford to lose at least twenty minutes.)

Everything about Wicked Clone, or How to Deal with the Evil: The Cinema Musical raises more questions than it could possibly answer, starting with the title: What exactly is a “cinema musical,” and what’s the difference between the evil and simply… evil? At least the titular “wicked clone” is easy to identify, as the show is the brainchild of Romanian-born twins Gabriela and Mihaela Mordecea, also known as the Indiggo Twins, who split the writing and performing duties, as well as the technical elements including light and costume design. I didn’t receive a real program at the performance I attended, but reviews of previous incarnations of the show mention that God is credited as the director, which, if true, is a real get, especially for Off-Broadway.

As every subsequent exclamation point-worthy plot detail is revealed, there is nothing to do except smile, nod, and stop resisting. The show was adapted from Mihaela’s five hundred (!) page “cinema novel” (!!) of the same name? Sure! The story revolves around the idea that the twins are five hundred-year-old vampiric descendants of Vlad the Impaler, who extracted an egg from his late wife and implanted it into a surrogate? Why not! Mihaela (the “good” twin) runs away to New York to escape the machinations of the evil Gabriela, who has previously disguised herself as Mihaela to kill seven (!) of Mihaela’s boyfriends? OK! And now, Mihaela’s one mission in life is to turn her book into a Broadway musical, presumably the one we’re seeing now? Naturally!

The “cinema musical” of the title refers to the multimedia element of the show. Film of the sisters combining found archival footage with new footage plays simultaneously with their performances — this is occasionally effective but more often than not leads to sensory overload. The songs themselves, gypsy-tinged electropop composed, produced, and arranged by Gabriela, are catchy enough, and they are both engaging to watch even when the material borders on incomprehensible.

The show and its branding depend heavily on the sex appeal of the identical twins: Their sultry pouting on the show’s posters and in the video segments; the gyrating, belly dance-inspired choreography; and the ab-baring costumes — not to mention a section where they strip down entirely in order to change clothes onstage. It also uncomfortably leans on the pseudo-incestuous homoeroticism that seems inescapable when it comes to depictions of twins in pop culture, culminating in a section where Gabriela disguises herself as Charlie Chaplin (!) to trick and seduce Mihaela into returning to her evil roots.

The twins’ previous brushes with fame include a stint as semifinalists on America’s Got Talent over a decade ago, and having their song “La La La” sampled by Kanye West and Jay-Z on their 2011 album Watch the Throne. The latter fact features heavily in the promotional material, and “La La La” serves as the show’s opening number. Unsurprisingly, the real-life backstory and dynamic of the twins themselves ends up being much more intriguing than the fictional story they’re telling, which has been in development in some form or another since 2010. Their single-minded, almost megalomaniacal creative vision is reminiscent of another Eastern European immigrant with oversized show business ambitions and a relentless pursuit of the American dream: Tommy Wiseau, writer, director, producer, and star of cult flop The Room.

This show is as compelling as it is confusing, which is to say, extremely. I could write my own five hundred-page cinema novel dissecting my experience at this show and it still wouldn’t be enough. I can only give my wholehearted endorsement to one of the campiest and most bizarrely entertaining nights at the theater I’ve ever had.

photos courtesy of The Indiggo Twins

Wicked Clone, or How to Deal with the Evil: The Cinema Musical
Indiggo Twins
John Cullum Theatre at the American Theater of Actors, 314 West 54th Street
Wed-Sat at 8; Sun at 3
ends on January 13, 2019
for tickets, visit Smart Tix
for more info, visit Wicked Clone

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