Thursday, May 17, 2012

Theatre review: "Blue Man Group" at Benedum Center

A traveling version of Blue Man Group has taken over the Benedum stage for a frenetic short stay. You could have experienced other incarnations of this concept; it assembled about 25 years ago in New York, stomping thereafter all around the globe. Still, the basics seem the same as ever during this one hour forty-five minute intermission-less experience.

Look at the name of the ensemble. Primitive. Fundamental. Tribal-like percussion conceptions incessantly thud. Then, when the somewhat alien figures descend from their platforms to mingle with eager witnesses seated within easy reach of the rituals, you might think of other tribal rites.

Oh sure, they’ve updated some bits, referring to recent technology, fractals, DNA, the Internet, apps,information pollution, etc. Texting is evoked. In fact, for those with short attention spans and twitchy fingers, it’s even permitted in the shadows of the house. This entourage hasn’t come to exhort reform. Puzzlement remains one of their main reactions. Subtle expressive movement with no eyebrows raised. No frowns. No smiles. A kind of innocence pervades. That takes talent.

There is some verbal communication. But not from the bluemen. Initially a flashing word-crawl exhorts the crowd to yell and call out greetings to each other. Later various anonymous vocal prompts call out from the hard-working speaker system urging other sounds and physical actions by the crowd. This is no audience-passive experience. Moreover people in front rows have been provided with plastic raincoats just in case spraying liquids on the stage splatter outward. Be warned.

Further actions spill over from up front. The bluers stride into the house, camera- peering up close into more normal faces. They also recruit participants for a couple of extended bits, one of them an incessant thing with Twinkies.

Colorful lights flash and shimmer. There are other eating shticks. Strange- looking assemblages of tubes get regularly banged while, upstage, strobe- lit on suspended platforms, four musicians in freaky costumes incessantly gyrate while adding to the thump, resembling what you can’t escape in traffic at times when increasingly deaf young people’s car interiors reverberate bass response into the next county.

Have I said that I find it noisy? It bears repeating. Repeating. Repeating.

Blue Man Group keeps on doing its thing through the evening of Sunday May 20th at Benedum Center, downtown. 412/456-6666 or

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