Event Preview | Sound, color, feeling coalesce at Charles Playhouse with Blue Man Group
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 07:10
Synesthesia is typically a gentle touch in a performance, an artistic device that lies beneath the surface but adds a slight feeling to certain colors or sounds.
This is not the case for the Blue Man Group. When it performs, colors, sounds and feelings combine into one sensory overload that is sustained from the show’s beginning to its end. The audience simultaneously sees the sound as rolling drums spit neon paint into the air and feel it as the seats quake from show’s new age, bass-heavy soundtrack.
Last week, on October 17th, the group opened its doors to Boston’s universities for the group’s famous College Media Night performance. Hosted at the Charles Playhouse, as it is throughout the year, the theater was full of eager college students and adults, which produced a surprisingly intimate and exciting atmosphere for the three blue men to do their work.
Running just over 90 minutes, the show used the entirety of the stage and held the crowd rapt throughout, even when it was silent. The show was divided into different segments and styles of entertainment, but no matter how they performed, the blue men produced a riveting and impressive show.
The most significant aspect of it all was the organic musicality of the blue men. The performance opened with the group drumming on large metal barrels, and showcased a rhythm that continued throughout, as the blue men continued to beat on a variety of objects with perfect timing.
Accompanying the blue men’s own numbers and playing some of their own was a neon-clothed band that sat above the stage. Together, they created the same sort of musical atmosphere that one might expected from a full-fledged rock concert, with hands clapping and feet tapping to the beat of the drums. Throughout the musical interludes the blue men never broke character, staring into the crowd even as they drummed on thin pieces of piping. Not once did it feel like the group was unaware of its surroundings.
After all, the performers’ interaction with the audience is largely the hallmark of any Blue Man Group performance. Seats and rows were left unfilled so the blue men could prowl through the theater and make the audience feel even closer to the performers. The luckiest members of the crowd were those who were pulled up on stage and got to actively participate in sketches or be painted blue with everyone watching. Every moment of those interactions added to the theatre’s vibrant and intimate atmosphere.
When the blue men weren’t playing music or spraying food into the audience, they were using props to create fantastic scenes that poked fun at modern culture and the use of technology today. At the College Media Night, giant iPads dropped down from the ceiling and the sketches that followed proved to be the most fun anyone could ever have while watching someone use an iPad. This modern addition was inventive, creative and absolutely hilarious.
In every portion of the show, the visuals and the sounds added a layer that was unparalleled as far as other performance troupes go. The thumping drums were coordinated perfectly with the light displays, and they all worked in tandem to produce the feeling of a modern sensory bubble even in a rather antique theatre.
In toying with the audience’s senses, perhaps where the blue men succeed the most is in making college students act and feel the way children do when presented with such visual displays. Twenty-year olds sat on the edge of their seats, followed the blue men in pumping their fists and jumped out of their chairs to punch balloons back into the air. The same smiles and emotions you would expect to see on seven-year olds after the show were the ones worn by college kids attending the event.
The blue men succeeded in their comedy without even speaking, and this created a show that someone of any age can enjoy. The bright colors mixed with the booming bass and blended with the perfectly choreographed motions of the performers give new meaning to the saying “feeling blue.”