An audience looks onward with a mix of amusement and uncertainty as three men, dressed entirely in black with their faces and any remaining showing skin painted blue, descend from the stage of the Briar Street Theater, through the aisles and into the crowd.
The men are the main cast of “The Blue Man Group,” a sort of hybrid between a concert and a circus show, which finds its home in various cities around the world, including Chicago. The resulting spectacle is filled with acrobatics, slapstick comedy, new-wave rock and social comedy that blends together to create a surprisingly accessible and incredibly joyful experience not quite like any other.
The three blue men stare at the audience members closely as if they were from another world, eyeing them with curiosity, almost observing them. The men culminate on one audience member in particular, an elderly woman. They beckon her to stand and join them on stage and she follows with hesitation, propelled forward by applause from the audience all around her.
Once she reaches the stage, however, she embraces the moment and wraps her arms around two of the blue mens’ shoulders, tilting her head back and laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.
The scene continues. She and the three blue men sit down at a makeshift scene of a fancy bistro and dine on Twinkies with forks and knives, that is until mashed up “digested” twinkles come shooting out of each of their chests.
If it sounds bizarre,that is because it is. Watching a “Blue Man Group” performance is almost like being transported to an alternate dimension.
However, any initial discomfort or strangeness is soon forgotten. Audience members hoot and holler as the blue men throw what appears to be colored marshmallows and catch them from yards away, suddenly blowing paint from their mouths onto a blank canvas, giving the resulting impromptu artwork to one lucky audience member.
“The Blue Man Group” also offers small doses of social commentary, dealing with concepts of technology, communication and uniformity. However, it isn’t long until the blue men return to their shenanigans and any social implications are left to lie beneath the spectacle.
As a result, “The Blue Man Group” is extremely accessible, as is evident by the giggles of children in the audience echoed throughout the theater. There is something utterly and simplistically joyful in the show. It is- not the audience participation, nor the slapstick comedy, but the blue men characters themselves.
Seemingly from an alien world, the blue men are beacons of childlike innocence, never speaking a word, utterly confused by our world and the strange beings that inhabit it.
Watching a “Blue Man Group” performance not only gives audiences a chance to laugh at the misunderstandings between us and the blue men, it also allows us to examine our own world at a different angle, from a much bluer perspective.