Review: Damp or not, I’m through with Blue Man Group. It’s boring.
By now you’ve heard the startling news that Blue Man Group’s Thursday performance at the Saroyan Theatre had to be shut down in the middle of the show after an overhead pipe burst, pouring water on the audience in the orchestra sitting below.
Is there some Department of Weird Coincidences in that big theater administration building in the sky arranging such things?
If there’s ever a show you’d expect to have water pouring on you, it’s Blue Man Group. People who sit in the front rows are traditionally issued rain slickers, after all.
It’s awful whenever a show has to be canceled, of course, both financially and artistically. But what are the chances that it’d be this one?
I saw the production on Wednesday night. Not to rub salt into the damp-blue wound, but after several viewings over the years, I have had enough of this franchise for a lifetime. I’m bored with it. Perhaps I’m missing something fundamental here — great insights, amazing human connections, or, at the very least, unbridled hilarity? — when confronted with three guys in bald caps slathered in blue paint. They cavort with food and various offbeat musical instruments, do a couple of routines with people they drag up from the audience, squabble a little, catch marshmallows in their mouths, and occasionally dance around their fancy set.
Mostly what they do, however, is bulge their eyes wide and maintain deadpan but vaguely disapproving expressions, as if they’re one of the under-butlers on “Downton Abbey” who just saw a guest eat with his fingers.
There are no Twinkies in this new “Speechless” tour, but there is lots of new stuff, including an audience game called The Match that gets two audience members to dance with each other. But none of the new material really made much difference to me. (There’s even an extended video-screen interlude that felt kind of desultory and cheap; the show is less than 90 minutes as it is, so why skimp on the live stage time?) The most charitable thing I can think of to say is that the whole thing is a vague paean to the old days of vaudeville, and there are moments that I smiled and even laughed, especially when a guy plucked from the audience ended up cavorting with a rubber chicken.
Mostly, though, the narrative-free format and those numbing blank expressions just sort of sedated me. (And yet, to be fair, people around me were finding it hilarious.) Maybe I need a change of pace: Red Man Group, or Purple, or Green. As it is, the Blue version just seems, um, all wet.