Curious hybrid group banish the blues

By Paul Simei-Barton

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Blue Man Group mix driving percussion and absurdist humour.
Blue Man Group mix driving percussion and absurdist humour.

Emerging in the 1980s from New York's performance art scene, the Blue Man Group is a curious hybrid of neo-Dadaist happenings blended with acid-house video-lighting effects, driving percussion and a generous dose of absurdist humour.

However you stack up the influences they coalesce into a unique, highly entertaining audio-visual experience now celebrating its 25th year. At the heart of the show is the unnerving, vaguely reptilian presence: the blue men - mute, alien creatures with cobalt-blue skin whose gesture express a quizzical attitude that occasionally tips into mischievous enjoyment of rhythm.

The percussive performances fuelling the show are enhanced by spectacular fountains of paint that are stirred into life when viscous pigment is poured onto the reverberating skins of kettle drums.

The blue men appear perpetually perplexed by the random and arbitrary unfairness of contemporary life and their ironic humour finds fertile territory in a hilarious piece using over-sized cell phones. Stepping in-and-out of the digital interface, the blue men pick up outrageous filters and the screens light up with a real-time audio-visual display generated by munching cereal.

By the time the blue ones are prowling for volunteers, the audience are primed to expect the unexpected and there is palpable level of suspense as a lucky punter is invited to partake in a dinner party that features Twinkie Bars, luminous fish, power-tools, exploding jelly, a fire extinguisher and a yuk-inducing device for regurgitating food.

The joyous finale conjures up a hallucinatory communal celebration with floating tangles of spaghetti and giant meat balls raining down beneath the starry dome of the Civic Theatre.

- NZ Herald

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