Monday, May 11, 2009

To Skywalker, with love

Two years ago I went to see Charles Ross' one man Star Wars show with my brother.
Charles Ross claims, and I don't doubt him, to have seen the original "Star Wars" 400 times. And this is "Star Wars" of my childhood not a New Hope, whatever!, what child said "oh, I loved New Hope", "I really want a New Hope action figure!".
In his show which was first performed in his native Canada, he condenses the original 3 Star Wars films into one hour. Dressed in a black boiler suit with not a single prop bar a black curtain backdrop he vocally creates the various music themes, the voices of the characters or in cases like Chewbacca and R2-D2 the growls and beeps, the battles, the humour, the little moments you had forgotten about. He pauses after each film to just take a sip of water. In between, the plots of the films and all their iconic lines are mixed up with his own humour relating to the films and some wry comments about the audience. There is no audience embarrassment here, everything is nostalgic good fun. His Darth Vader and Yoda are inspired and Han, R2-D2, the Emperor, Obi-Wan and Jabba the Hutt are stand outs. While my brother enjoyed the depiction of Han which you would see Harrison Ford in as well, it is his Luke Skywalker that was the highlight for me. It is not just the character of Luke that he takes gentle digs at but Mark Hamill and his acting skills. In asides, he comments on Luke being whiny. When Luke says "I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you!!" most guys in the audience were back in 1977, in my case aged 8 and wishing to be abroad a Death Star or have a light saber lighting up the air. The unimpressed Leia there before you. X wings, Tie Fighters, speeder bikes, the fall of AT-AT's are all recreated. Jabba's laugh fills the room, Leia is both earnest and flighty, Han is an instant space cowboy and poor Chewie, well, the end of the first segment is a real laugh. He uses his hands to be Admiral Ackbar and his ewoks are thankfully swift and not dwelt on. His body like a gymnast to be everything else as he bounds, tucks and rolls across the stage. But this is a show to savour for the first time, your mind seeing Ross in action and the characters he adores also in your head. It's a real experience. The show, done in a hour, is constantly energetic, Ross's face contorts and the various voice changes never confuse but I say like myself you have to be a fan. Only one woman of the 3 in the audience hadn't seen any of the films, the shame! the things women do for their boyfriends! but it would have been impossible for her not to enjoy it. This is a show done from the heart. After the show, the audience were given a preview of the Lord of the Rings trilogy he does, the character in question he uses the one that always freaked me out. He's off on a world tour now and is in Dublin's Spirit venue in Abbey Street for another week so go, if you're a Star Wars fanatic you'll love it.

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