Aside from an unexpected and upsetting allergic reaction to Dramamine one time, I’ve never done hallucinogenic drugs, nor do I condone their use, but having seen Blue Man Group, I kinda feel like I know what a good experience with recreational pharmaceuticals could be. The show is without a doubt a trip and to be quite honest I’m still processing it, which is… a good thing.
A motley mix of modern magic show, performance art, mess-making, rave, rock concert, science class and social commentary, it occurred to me only afterwards that there really isn’t a clear premise to this show. No traditional story or through line. We’re never told that these Blue Men are aliens, or represent our egos and ids or that they’re in our minds or any such thing. They just are. Non-verbal, abstract and man do they put on a great show. The art of the double take is catapulted to new heights in this production and while no semblance of a plot in the common sense can be found the audience is completely engaged. And, to be frank, with the integral part that the audience plays in this experience, they don’t really have an opportunity to be impassive.
Now, I’m not one for audience participation usually; I don’t mind watching it so much, but the fear of being chosen to participate in what ideally for me is a spectator event, takes me out of the experience I want to stay in so desperately. I gladly make the exception for Blue Man Group though as the community participation element is presented in a way that is truly creative, light-hearted and in many case quite funny. If you’re in the audience, you aren’t going to be able to escape some kind of participation, but the majority of it is collective and doesn’t single you out in a forced, embarrassing or uncomfortable way. These guys are experts and they know who to pick and who to stay away from. It is in their best interest to choose wisely. Still, if you are one of those that are going to refuse to play no matter what, you should probably skip this one.
There is an unprecedented; nay a RidONKulous amount of things that can go wrong in this show as so much of it is contingent upon precise timing and an enormous amount of power. Literally, the electricity bill for this show must be astronomical. I have to hand out major high fives to all the running crew and especially the stage managers for rolling with the punches and staying on target with the live improvisational elements of the show. If a single cue is missed or not timed correctly, entire jokes/illusions could fail in the very worst way and in some cases people could get hurt. Throw in the fact that this is a touring show and the spaces are vastly different from city to city, and it’s a miracle that actors, musicians and crew can ensure the show goes like clockwork.
This show is loud and full of flashing lights so those with an aversion to sensory overload are going to be challenged pretty much from the get go. Also note that it’s over 90 minutes with no intermission and so laying off the liquids and making a pit stop prior to sitting down is highly recommended for optimal enjoyment. Kids over about 7 will probably really get a kick out of this show too so making it a family outing will add to your enjoyment. There is a fair amount of reading to some of the jokes, but there were plenty of kids giggling throughout last night and they were particularly enthralled by the last section of the show.
Say no to drugs kids, but yes to Blue Man Group. A trippy and engaging 4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for a show that combines digital wizardry and bizarre randomry for a totally fun spectacle that is a perfect fit for the predisposed geeky DNA of the Silicon Valley. Blue Man Group plays only one week, through April 7th a the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown.