The Blue Man Group: Defying Definition
By Lesley Buxton.
Tuesday night, the legendary Blue Man Group performed at Penticton South Okanagan Events Centre. At 8pm promptly the show began with an explosion of colour, light, and sound. The Blue Man Group show is both strange and wonderfully compelling. It defies description. Imagine the very best parts of a concert, mixed with a comedy act and the beauty of an abstract painting. It’s not a show, it’s an immersive experience where at times the audience is as much a player in the action as the performers. Penticton’s audience played their role expertly.
The show stars three mute bald blue performers who are a bundle of contradictions. First of all they move around the stage like aliens trapped inside human bodies. Their pace is awkward, self-conscious and rigid. Yet when they drum, their movements are impeccably timed, fluid, even graceful. The Blue Man characters are both naïve and sophisticated. Think Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp meets David Bowie’s The Man Who Fell to Earth.
Throughout the show, the performers are accompanied by a band who expertly translates their actions into music using bizarre instruments like the Chapman stick and the zither. A language understood by all. The show’s music is a rich array of world music, techno, hard rock, and classical. There’s certainly something for everybody. The Penticton audience loved it.
There’s no narrative to the show in traditionally sense, still the show is seamlessly woven together through a series of vignettes. The performers wrestle with themes like technology, culture, science, and etiquette. One particularly lovely example of this was when a woman from the audience was invited on stage to dine on a meal of Twinkies with the group —and they all tried to use knives and forks.
An unexpected aspect of the show is how visual it is. The lights are gorgeous. The air is saturated with colour. It’s like being trapped inside a giant Kaleidoscope. Colours whirl and blur. There’s fuchsia, red, and loads of blue. The band looks like they’re dressed in 80’s art icon Keith Haring’s crazy florescent tribal prints. In one early segment there’s a definite Andy Warhol moment as the three members clutch boxes of Captain Crunch.
At the end of the 90 minute show the room suddenly became a wonderful scene from a futuristic dance hall. Streamers and giant colourful balloons flew over our heads. People looked up in awe, batting them back and forth. The young children in the audience jumped with glee and the magic of the spectacle. The Blue Man Group performs again tomorrow night in Penticton before closing the tour in Kamloops. Catch tomorrow night’s show and learn why this group has been mesmerizing audiences for over 26 years.
Featured photo credit: Jordon Shade.