Review || Blue Man Group: Slapstick for the digital age

Hennepin Theatre Trust, State Theatre

Do you feel the need for some silliness? Just letting go and laughing? You’re not alone. Millions of people worldwide have felt the same way—since 1987! Now, that’s what I call a run!

The Blue Man Group (“Still Blue, the Rest is New”) has made a stop in Minneapolis, drawing out an audience of fans last night who clearly knew the schtick, read the nonverbal cues and responded to the prompts. That made this wacky performance experience all the more fun.

Banks of over-sized digital representations of sound create a dramatic, ever-changing backdrop of blinking and flashing lights. Lots of blue, of course, under black light; the stage (and your program insert) glows in this neon color wash.

The Blue Man Group is also known for its percussion-based soundscape, laced with instruments they’ve invented, mostly from giant PVC pipe, it appears. One “instrument” looked just like a giant, old-fashioned TV antenna and sounded like low-pitched wind chimes. That’s as close as I can get.

You, the audience, are very much a part of the show, and don’t try to get out of it. Why would you? It’s fun! You might wonder how three blue men can make an entire audience follow them, but you will follow them in no time, and you won’t mind at all. Yes, there are just three Blue Men, but there are twice that many support technicians and two phenomenally versatile musicians.

Let’s talk more about what we’d ordinarily call “a set.” This one is more like an android ensemble, interacting with the Blue Men in a way that’s just as immediate as a pie in the face. A more subtle “pie-in-the-face” (Thumbs up.) Thumbs down? Wait for it … dozens of them? Awww ….

And that’s as close as we get to making any kind of statement. This is pure, clever, perfectly executed clowning. No other agenda. No hidden meaning. It is what it is: entertainment!

Performers have to be very good at this kind of comedy to get an entire audience (with the exception of a handful, including the person next to me) on their feet, waving their arms, wiggling their hips, following the very basic instructions of their dancing Blue Men. (Person next to me is seated. Not smiling. Ok, so it’s not for everyone. You are advised.)

Bring your nine-year-old niece or a cousin of any age who loves stupid jokes. You will be reminded of how good it feels to laugh … just to laugh. Nothin’ wrong with that.

Blue Man Group runs just through Sunday, Feb. 9 at the State Theatre, downtown Minneapolis.

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