It’s been five years since the last time bald blue men with amazing abilities were seen in Vancouver.
However, unlike Doctor Manhattan in the locally filmed Watchmen movie, the members of the Blue Man Group are simply here to entertain rather than save the world.
They also wear pants.
Blue Man Group is an international cult favourite originally from New York, where it has been running for more than two decades, and has spawned spin-offs in several North American cities with a small army of clowns who enjoy wearing elaborate makeup and banging on PVC tubes with mallets. While this is their first time in B.C., many in the packed Queen E. Theatre on Wednesday night (the show runs until March 30) were clearly familiar with their shtick and there was a whiff of a Rocky Horror vibe from the get-go, with audience members knowing to read aloud the words from a preshow message prompter without needing to be told to.
The boys in blue are, as described in their PR bumf, “three enigmatic characters that lead the audience in a multi-sensory experience that combines theater, percussive music, art, science and vaudeville into a form of entertainment that is like nothing else.”
The high-tech show is also literally a mess, although not necessarily in a bad way. The mute men (Mike Brown, Benjamin Forster and Russell Rinker) drum in pools of paint, shoot mysterious substances from various orifices and stuff their faces with breakfast cereal before chewing their way through in a majorly amped sonata backed by a crack band of glow-in-the-dark musicians. (I’d love to know if the band’s lightning-fast response to an audience request for Freebird was part of the act because it was almost too awesome to be spontaneous.)
Audience participation is also a big part of the show, with the performers crawling over seats and plucking random victims to come up on stage or have cameras shoved in their faces. (Arriving late is ill advised if you hope to slip unnoticed into your seat.) One poor fellow was placed in a jumpsuit, splashed with paint (including his shoes), suspended upside down and then swung into a large canvas to create a painting. Some might consider this torture; here it’s all part of the family-friendly fun, which culminates in a communal finale with mandatory dancing, giant bouncing balls and the blue men shooting more toilet paper into the crowd than you could go through in a year.
Blue Man Group is the basically the gleeful antithesis of what to expect from a posh evening at the theatre, even if tickets aren’t exactly cheap. It may not be art but it’s a sure-fire quick fix cure for a case of the blues.
© Vancouver Courier