The Blue Man Group is not just a show, it is an experience. It balances classic, circus humor with artsy, edgy performances that make great use of drums, technology and plenty of paint.
Originally based in New York City, the Blue Man Group eventually extended their shows to Boston and Chicago, and is performing in D.C. from March 23 to April 3 in its first theatrical tour.
The D.C. performance’s setting in the prestigious Warner Theatre seemed a bit out of place for the unconventional and quirky Blue Man Group. However, they successfully transformed the stage to look as futuristic and eccentric as their performance was, complete with moving screens and floating platforms.
The Blue Man Group is comprised of three members who remain mute throughout the show, channeling the classic slapstick characteristics of the Three Stooges. They are supported by a band that plays suspended in the corner of the stage, often shrouded in darkness until the sketches call for them to take a larger role.
The performance is on the cutting edge of cool, making use of technology and science and enough light shows to cause minor seizures. Watching mute blue bald men play around with interactive screens and giant iPads may not sound appealing, but The Blue Man Group makes it hard to look away.
One sketch that explored the inner functions of the eye and its rods and cones was both educational and psychedelic, attacking the senses with vibrant lights, colors and sounds.
Each of the three members share a certain childlike wonder that is the butt of many of their comedy sketches, which could include paint, Twinkies and Cap’n Crunch. Needless to say, many of these props ended up either on the floor or on the audience, of which the first four rows were kindly provided with raincoats.
The comedy sketches may have been fresh and funny, but they were by no means enough to carry the show. The Blue Man Group’s strength was its many drumming performances, which they kept innovative by combining elaborate sketches and musical performances. All three members were very talented drummers and balanced their more serious musical skills with their comedic wit.
The most impressive aspect of the show was its interaction with the audience. Other than the occasional spraying of paint and other props onto the first four rows, the Blue Man Group would occasionally pick audience members to participate in their performances, one of which they put in a jumpsuit, hung him upside down by his foot and essentially used him as a human paintbrush.
This interactivity made for a spectacular finale, for which they pulled out all the stops. The Blue Man Group brought out huge, cloth-covered balloons that they threw to the audience to hit. Toilet paper rolls and cloth streamers were flying everywhere. The whole theater was on their feet, waiting for the next massive balloon to come their way or to just be a part of the massive mayhem that was ensuing.
It was a euphoric ending to a mind-blowing evening, and it sped by just as quickly as the drumming encore that came after. In using childish antics to make the viewers laugh, the Blue Man group reminded them what it was to be a kid again. And it’s a childhood you’d want to revisit again and again.