When they formed the Blue Man Group and started performing in small venues around Manhattan in 1987, Phil Stanton, Chris Wink, and Matt Goldman sought meaningful connection during a decade of decadence and decline through their act, which was, at the time, in its very early stage. What served as a primary motivator for the Blue Man Group throughout its formative years was a desire to somehow reverse the breakdown of community—i.e., divorce, the Cold War, a general feeling of disenfranchisement—that had come to characterize the latter portion of the twentieth century.
When I saw the Blue Men perform at the Astor Place Theatre in New York this past weekend, I experienced much more than I expected I would find.
The show features three men with heads painted a melancholy shade of blue, with an expression of permanent astonishment tacked onto their faces for an added quality of otherworldly eeriness.
The performance itself unfolds like domestic childhood boredom run amok as the three Blue Men toss paint around the stage and through the air, as they crawl across rows of seats to flirt with their audience, as they bang on PVC pipes as if they were drums, and as they release toilet paper from rolls suspended from the ceiling like alien incarnations of Rumpelstiltskin spinning glorious golden ribbon from straw.
As unruly as the Blue Men get, there remains an ostensible sweetness about them. All they really want is to foster performer-audience connection. The Blue Men refuse to sit idly by and fall victim to communication in its most supremely superficial sense. Despite their amusingly preternatural appearance, the Blue Men want to be loved like everybody else.