They aren’t white; they aren’t black; they aren’t blotchy, wrinkled or suntanned and they don’t have acne. Their hair isn’t blond, brown, black or red. It isn’t curly or straight, long or short. They are three blue, hairless bodies, they are heads covered with a gooey substance that comes off if you touch it. They don’t talk, they have deadpan faces, big wide eyes and they catch things with their mouths.
They look human but not like any human being you have ever seen. They are not supposed to be aliens because they understand the world around them. They live in their own space, redefining their own art form, as they observe our human world, trying to critique what we do in our world by turning all current performance art on its head. They are actors, mime artists, percussionists, dancers, visual artists, graphic artists, choreographers, sound designers. They are scientists, sculptors, ethnologists, computer specialists, and comedians! The list is long and unending. Their talents are immense and their imagination is boundless.
This is not a play. There is no story. They just churn out a series of sketches that appear to evolve from the Happenings of the 1960s – painters tossing blobs of paint at their canvasses, as they find a new way to express themselves. Here, they beat the paint with drumsticks as the colour spurts out in the air and oozes out of holes in their chests! Its disgustingly fascinating!
However, they use all the current technology that allows them to parody, pastiche and make fun of all means of creation that serves as their inspiration. It is fun but it is also surprising, exciting, aggressive and exceedingly ironic. It takes apart the Rock concert, it makes fun of all the electronic devices that have imprisoned the minds of young people and diluted their thinking down to two minute bites. They drown our ears in drumming and a great carnival of sounds, rhythms and digitalized images that transform all manner of material into great majestic physical performances where you also see and hear Kodo drummers, African drummers, Rock drummers, and any tradition where drumming takes over. This is a magnificent amalgamation of moods and art forms, a hybrid cultural experience.
It isn’t all loud and wild however. They also bring the audience into the show and even entice a nice young woman up to the stage for a sweet, almost lyrical moment of eating “something” at the table. They also set up three giant smart phones just to show us we can’t multitask without losing something. They drag a man backstage and make him part of a “Jackson Pollock style” of action painting. Those were more thoughtful pieces. They also produce a visual delirium where they bring on a carnival of huge bouncing human sized puppets, jumping, spinning, flashing colours, in a way the abstract expressionists might have used paint. They give in to their own scientific delirium as they explain the system of optical nerves through an orchestration of a pulsating mass of moving artwork, transforming a portion of the human body into a huge living painting that overwhelms the senses. Forms of art criss cross, play with each other, play with our perceptions of everything, create optical illusions, and take us on a journey that will never be forgotten.
The Blue Man experience is certainly for teen agers, but it’s also for nostalgic adults looking for a sixties style party…a total physical experience that brings you back to the love and peace movement of sixties…and the psychedelic atmosphere created when you smoked that “stuff” trying to attain another state of reality. In our time, Blue Man Group has harnessed the romanticism of it all, with a good dose of satire, and turned it into a very lucrative form of popular performance. And what a pleasure it is!!
Blue Man Group plays in Southam Hall from December 27, 2011 to January 1. 2012
Blue Man Group
at the National Arts Centre
Created written and directed by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, Chris Wink
Directed by Marcus Miller and Blue Man Group
Artistic and Musical Collaborators: Chris Dyas, Larry Heinemann, Ian Pai, Todd Perlmutter, Jeff Turlik
Blue Man performed by Kalen Allmandinger, Kirk Massey, Peter Musante, Patrick Newton, Michael Rahhal, Bhurin Sead
Musicians: Julian Cassanetti, Jerry Kops, Chris Reiss, Ramsey Roustom, Clement Waldman III
Music Director: Byron Estep
Lighting design: Joel Moritz
Costume design: Chase Tyler
Sound design: Matt Koenig
Video Design: Caryl Glaab and the Blue Man Group
Blue Man character costume: Patricia Murphy
Blue Man Groupe comes to Ottawa through “ Broadway Across Canada” which brings touring events to North America.