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Friday, 23 November 2012 23:21

Blue Man Group: inexplicable, bizarre, and mainstream

Written by Emily Piro
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Blue Man Group: inexplicable, bizarre, and mainstream
www.blueman.com / John Kasko

Blue Man Group is known for their highly theatrical productions – part concert, part comedy, part multi-media extraveganza.

Started in 1991 by a trio of friends as “a way to celebrate the human spirit through music, science, art and theatre,” the show has consistently defied definition. Apparently. Admittedly, I only knew them from the iconic IBM commercials. Blue Man Group also plays mega-houses, tours satirical rock concerts world-wide, runs a charter school in NYC, boasts a Grammy nominated album and produces DVD's, documentaries, television scores.

And yet, this iteration is the first national tour of the theatrical production. The show is pitched as a showcase of favorite Blue Man Group moments from their various endeavors. And there are certainly enough neon lights, swirling video projections, pop-culture references and, yes, paint splatters and percussive symphonies to satisfy.

So how can something so inexplicable and bizarre be such a mainstream phenomenon? I think the popularity of shows like Blue Man Group proves that deep down, we all have a desire for the avante garde. To have the oddities of our day-to-day existence gently examined by something even weirder is somehow cathartic. And what better way to celebrate that release of tension, of the constricts of social norms, that confirmation of “Yes, our culture is strange and fascinating and by Jove, we are interesting creatures too” than with a giant dance party and some good old primal beats.

The three blue men produce surprisingly engaging scenes of mundane moments. Routine is the name of the game. There's a lot of wide, glistening eyes examining – each other, the audience, every day contraptions – punctuated by bursts of unprecedented discovery, surprising themselves as much as the audience. And yet, for a show that deems to explore the intricacies of humanity, conformity seems the unsettling subtext. Variation is used as an exclamation point, but is quickly squelched with watery, perhaps judging, stares – and the one blue man that, for a moment, stood out, quickly submits back to the intentionally nondescript posse. What does that mean for us, the culture that invented these inquisitive interchangeable azure sentinels?

All in all, Blue Man Group is generally what you'd expect. A fun show, with just enough provocation to be culturally relevant, but it probably won't leave you with much introspection. And you'll have plenty of chances to boogie throughout the night. As a live show, it's enough like performance art to shake up the routine (so to say), but safe enough in its content for an evening of entertainment that doesn't threaten too much thinking.

Blue Man Group continues at the Fabulous Fox Theater through December 2nd. For more information, you may call 534-1111 or visit fabulousfox.com.

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