It’s better to arrive late to the party than not at all. I finally went to see Blue Man Group live in Boston at the Charles Street Playhouse—I’m not exactly in front of the trend here, since they’ve been around since 1987—but like the Statue of Liberty (which I also haven’t been to) Blue Man Group is one of those things lots of people have heard of but don’t think to see for themselves.
I’ve seen performances on TV, especially their Blue Man Tour on PBS, and for years I planned to go, but just never seemed to arrange it. If you’re like me, you keep thinking this is something that would probably be fun, but you don’t really need to see it.
Stop that kind of thinking right now! We all need a little shake up now and again, and the Blue guys will throw you right into the blender of their weird and wonderful show. You’ll come out exhausted and delighted, and you’ll never look at simple human rituals the same way again.
Listen my children and you will hear–three guys playing on PVC pipe…
(This is the larger version of Rods and Cones from the National Show).
Spoiler alert! No matter where you see it, the show elevates the notion of simplicity to a stratospheric level, with no dialog, few costumes, basic sets, props from your garage or kitchen cabinet, and storylines that are straight out of Dick and Jane. And it works. Because they ride the many circuits of our common language, reminding us of how a simple movement, like the waving of a hand, or a nod can convey a world of information—or misinformation.
My son went with us, the same son who spent years struggling with the nuance of human interaction due to his Aspergian approach to life. (See my other posts on Aspergers). Subtle communication has always stymied him, and yet this show laid out the folly of human reaction in a clever display that was as instantly accessible to him as it was to me. He rumbled with the rhythms they played on paint-splattered drums and rocked to the pvc pipe music. He stomped his feet, raised his arms, and shouted out loud like the rest of us in completely accurate response to the prompts of the show.
It’s really all about communication, and the many levels on which we do it. For me, the most fun of the night is a simple and very quiet routine in which the Blue 3 find an audience member to join them at a table on stage, where for nearly 10 minutes they quietly share a box of Twinkies. It’s a riveting and hilarious interaction that illuminates how much expectation we transfer to each other.
I can tell you all about Blue Man Group, describing even the smallest detail of their show, and you would still not get the experience. This is where performance art takes a leap inside you—you really have to be there. The live event of each show is different, as the energy comes from the audience involved—and involved they are.
Check out the website to see some of the things that will be flung your way: things like toilet paper, marshmallows, paint, and supersized beach balls. If you think things like this aren’t worth the price of admission, then you really must go, as this show challenges all of your thinking about things you see in everyday life, like cell phones, plumbing, and, well, Twinkies.
Here they are, explaining it themselves…but if you want to be surprised, skip the video and go for the real show!