Chase the Blues

Blue Man Group is a raucous load of fun

"It is filled with energy ... seething excitations ... no organization." Those are some of the ways Sigmund Freud once described the id, but it's also an apt description of any Blue Man Group performance.

Created and directed by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, and Chris Wink, and now enjoying a two-week run at Playhouse Square, Blue Man Group has been around since the early 1990s, playing continually in New York, Vegas, and other cities around the world. But this is its first visit to Cleveland, and it's without a doubt unique. If you relax and allow that anarchic pre-teen lurking inside you to come out, you'll have an unqualified blast.

Performed to a virtually constant drumbeat so intense it makes your internal organs vibrate, the show is a collection of rock-inspired exercises in visual overload and inventive tomfoolery. The three performers (who remain somewhat anonymous since there are seven rotating Blue Men in the cast who might be onstage) are blue from the neck up, and are clad in identical nondescript outfits with blue gloves. They never register a recognizable emotion, curiously exploring their environment and keeping their poker faces impassive throughout.

But their actions resemble nothing so much as what a trio of enterprising four-year-olds would do if the baby-sitter slipped into a coma for about 90 minutes. Paint is poured on drums so the pounding creates colorful splash-clouds. One Blue Man throws paintballs to another, who catches them in his mouth and then sprays it onto a canvas. The third catches marshmallows until his cheeks bulge and he spits out a sculpture, on which he immediately puts a price tag.

The three guys pound on everything in sight: a large vibe set that appears to be connected with a replica of someone's lower intestines, and PVC pipes that slide together and apart to create different tones. The program notes suggest this percussion could be drawn from the sound of a mother's heartbeat as heard from the womb. If that's true, then Mom was bombing shots of adrenal fluid into Mountain Dew 40-ouncers. This is some hard-ass freakin' drumming.

The most transformative moment comes in "the ultimate dance party," during which large illuminated fabric balls are bounced throughout the audience while toilet paper streamers are shot up into the balcony. If that doesn't get you smiling, then your nervous system has been disconnected. Of course, there is no way words can describe the effect of the Blue Man Group. It has to be seen and felt. You may not want to go back again, but one visit with these drum-addicted dudes would seem mandatory.

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About The Author

Christine Howey

Christine Howey has been reviewing theater since 1997, first at Cleveland Free Times and then for other publications including City Pages in Minneapolis, MN and The Plain Dealer. Her blog, Rave and Pan, also features her play reviews. Christine is a former stage actor and director, primarily at Dobama Theatre...
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