So these three blue hairless mute guys show up at the Fox Theatre and spend 90 minutes trying to figure out what it is we want from them. Or maybe they're trying to help us figure out what it is we want from them? The obvious answer would be we want to be entertained — we're in a theater, after all — but that's only partially true. This blue trio is wholly entertaining, however, often in unexpected ways.
Said entertainment takes various forms. One member of this Blue Man Group pounds away on a large drum while the other two crowd in on either side with bottles of DayGlo paint. They alternate squirting paint on the drumhead and observing the way it splatters when the drummer changes the speed and strength of his strikes. Audience members egg them on with shouts of "Go get it!" and "Do it!" (These are the fabled Blue Men Groupies, or "Bluepies," and they are keyed up to the point of mania.) Each of the paint wielders do go get it, hovering inches over the live drum and receiving the expected paint facial, to much applause. It's vaudevillian in its obviousness, and yet you laugh. Expectations are meant to be rewarded, not thwarted. And there is something so guileless about the performance, the way each wingman looks eagerly at the audience when it claps and then obligingly leans in even closer for another shot of paint. They end this stunt standing in a tight group, arms raised in victory — more applause, and they stretch their arms even higher.
It doesn't take long before the Blue Men wander into the crowd, peering around with the curious intensity of big blue meerkats. A human is selected and we collectively clap; the Blue Man peers at us and then hoists his and his foundling's arms in the air, and we clap more enthusiastically. The moment lingers. The Blue Men look at each other and some knowledge seems to be exchanged nonverbally.
The audience member is brought up onstage and set at a table. Twinkies are brought forth (knowing applause) and plated. Flowers come out, Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World is hung upon the wall. The Blue Men watch their guest intently, following her lead. A meal is shared, although not without some stumbles and a few surprises, which the woman laughs off. The audience is howling. The Blue Men seem encouraged by both her ability to endure it all with grace and kindness, and by our enjoyment of watching the group eat, and they raise her arms again and again.
This is when you realize that Blue Men are studying us, trying to figure out what it is that makes us happy. Then, they do it. They bathe in paint, they catch in their mouths supernatural amounts of marshmallows hurled at one another from across the stage, they make paintings and sculptures and hand them to deliriously happy audience members and they create strangely syncopated music on bizarre PVC pipe instruments. These audio excursions are sometimes aided by an instrumental quartet in fluorescent armor, which plays driving space rock to help us along our journey to understanding why we're here.
The Blue Man Group does this for us for 90 minutes, and when it's over we don't just feel entertained: We feel as if we've forged a deep and resonant connection with these Blue Men. Even more remarkable, we feel that we've shared something vital with our fellow human beings in the audience.
That is why we go to the theater.