In Tubes, Blue Man Group offers a frenetic clown show, exploring competition, conformity and technology, with an anti-intellectualism that poo-poos art criticism even as it invites analysis. Its mask work - three blue, bald, silent heads with the timing of the Russian clowns. Their understated mime looks effortless, but theres a careful analysis behind it.
Now, if you dont dig one element of their work, youll dig another. They lunge at the information superhighway with metaphor on screen, and make an audience member into a sort of Alice at the mad tea party. Their favorite target is modern art: they toss balls of paint into each others mouths and spit it onto canvass, and display the Pollockesque results next to their expressionless faces with hesitant pride. An innocent audience member is made into a human paint brush offstage, while we watch the event on video. The electronics theme, in fact, is strong, as we decide whether the event or its video is more interesting. Were primed before the show with electronic billboards - the kind with moving words - that have us singing Happy Birthday before anyone comes on stage. Smart. As American theater becomes increasingly a patchwork of conventions, we would all do well to open with an indication of what to expect tonight.
But Blue Man relies too much on vomit humor - they should leave that stuff to Beavis and Butthead. And some of the statements are hardly cutting edge. Nonetheless, Tubes is welcome, the current manifestation of an eternal cultural voice reminding us that art is merde. Theres even toilet paper hung over our heads -- just to drive home the metaphor.
===CAST (in combinations of three): Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, Chris Wink, Shawn Sturnick, Brian Scott, Steve White