I finally got to see the Blue Man Group. T treated me and her parents for her mom’s birthday and we had a blast.
The trio has a dedicated theater in Roppongi, Tokyo, one of only two venues outside of the US. The show is multimedia avant-garde performance art at its best. The three performers are completely blue, never say a word, and never blink. They’re like mime artists from Mars on LSD. If there is a narrative (and there really isn’t) they would be a comedy troupe from some far off planet, having found themselves on earth and trying to come up with new material with objects that are as alien to them as they are commonplace to us.
Much of their act was adapted to local, Japanese, popular references. They used a popular local sweet. And some of their songs are Japanese tunes, for instance. Some of the acts are completely bizarre. Well, it’s all bizarre actually.
The set consists mostly of pvc sewage pipes that resemble scenes from the movie Alien. The pipes are sometimes played as a xylophone or a trombone. There’s painting, marshmallows, obsession with eating cereal, a massive toilet-papering, a medical exam, synesthetic drumming, and lots of audience participation.
In fact, the barrier between audience and performers was constantly broken. The audience was threatened and cajoled into participating. The eeriest moments were when they would wander in among us, one of them walking over us, stepping on the armrests. The first few rows of people were required to wear plastic raincoats because of all the spraying paint, and regurgitated food (!).
They played a lot with video art, as they went from some action on the stage to some (T thinks) pre-recorded events that were seamlessly woven into the stream of what we thought was reality. This was particularly subversive. For instance we saw them leave the stage and then on the screen we saw a video feed of them leaving the theater, catching a taxi, then taking off. Only to have them re-emerge on the stage moments later.
We could ascribe profound meanings to their dizzying antics, but in the end I’m convinced the show was all about having fun.