In the vast, soaring reaches of that old dowager, the Warner theatre, there is a conspiracy of chaos in progress. The agents of chaos are three silent bald men, wrapped in skins of cobalt latex. They are Blue Man Group. We are invited to be co-conspirators.
Here is what Blue Man Group is: percussionists, for whom the everyday world is a drum, and who can tease music out of PVC pipe. Graphic and performance artists, who can create paintings through the technique of spitting, which was also your technique, when you were eighteen months old. Acrobats, who can zing objects into each other’s mouths with great accuracy and cheerfully gross results. Audience agitators, who on the night I saw the show shanghaied a remarkably comely young lady and a muscular gentleman of early middle years onto the stage (both audience members were wonderfully game). Producers of a kiddie show (and you are herewith authorized to be a kid, regardless of your age) – understand that there is some mildly risqué material, and also that the children I saw were ecstatic with laughter. Aliens, who look at the everyday things of their world, and ours, with wonderful suspicion and amazement. Sage fools. Profound clowns. Us, if we would let ourselves.
All of this happens in front of an aural background supplied by four excellent musicians –– Jerry Kops, Clement J. Waldmann, III, Jeff Wright and musical director David Traver, who gives an interesting interview with Jordan Wright here.
There are five Blue Men on tour: Kalen Allmandinger, Josh Elrod, Mark Frankel, General Fermon Judd and Peter Musante. I do not know which three I saw – there is no program, and they do not otherwise disclose – but it doesn’t matter; they are interchangeable, and you may see a different set.
They carry on a tradition commenced by their cerulean forbearers, Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink. Blue Man Group embraces the notion that people ought to live in community and be aware of each other, and labors toward that end by startling the daylights out of us.
“We saw three punk rockers – giant Mohawks, safety pins in the cheekbone area, leather and chains – walk between three other gentlemen who were dressed in Armani suits and carrying alligator briefcases,” Goldman once said. “These six guys didn’t even blink, and the people around them didn’t even blink. And we turned to each other and said, ‘If that scene didn’t even get one iota of consciousness put to it, what human imagery possibly could?’”
The answer: go blue and bald. “We thought, ‘What would surprise people?’” Stanton said. “‘What’s going to catch someone’s eye and make them think?’ We thought that if we created a bald and blue character, that image would have the ability to surprise and spark some thought for a long time.”
Well, he was right: it does. I will not spoil things by telling you exactly what they do on stage, and besides, it might be completely different when you come. Suffice it to say that there’s a reason this is being done in the Warner, rather than, say, the DC Arts Center.
Go. Make noise. Have a Twinkie (they’re Twinkie Lights, so it’s o.k.) Let them point a camera in your mouth, if they want to. Have fun.
You won’t have to clean up.
Blue Man Group performs through April 3rd at the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St NW, Washington, DC.
Blue Man Group
Creative director of character development and appearances: Puck Quinn.
Produced by Blue Man Productions, presented at the Warner Theatre
Reviewed by Tim Treanor
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes, without intermission