Wednesday, November 15, 2006

REVIEW: One Man Star Wars Trilogy (Spirit, Dublin)

A long time ago in a galaxy far away…or at least in Toronto, in 2001, Charles Ross took the stage for the first time to perform his One Man Star War Trilogy. Now, some 1000 performances later, the Canadian actor arrives in Dublin ready to recreate Lucas’ original films using only his bare hands, a flexible vocal technique and a head-mounted mic.

This kind of undertaking requires – and here gets the benefit of – plenty of adroit stagecraft and comedic know-how. But when Ross is in full flight, pulling faces and whooping out an extraordinary collection of vocal sound effects, it still calls to mind an imaginative six-year-old boy child at play.

This child, of course, can recreate various classes of Rebel Alliance fighter with a bend of his elbow. He can lunge, parry and riposte a lightsabres with just the power of his voice. He can mash up scenes and characters at will, energetically conjuring up everyone from Luke to his father, from Jabba The Hut to Chewbacca, while jaunting us at faster-than-light speed between Tatooine and the Death star.

There is something almost wistful about this attempt to recapture a flavour of the naive enjoyment first felt sitting in a darkened room, hearing John Williams’ bombastic theme tune and seeing the yellow letters of the epilogue to Star Wars scroll off into the darkness of space.

What is most impressive, however, is the way this nostalgia somehow gets embedded in Ross’s frantic, headlong rush. The pace of it all is phenomenal. Ross races through three movies in just 60 minutes making almost no concessions for those who have not done their homework. This one clearly does not see his job as retelling the Star Wars saga so much as officiating at a communal celebration of its values.

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