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vancouverplays review


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—(L-Poster image

by Charles Ross
Studio Theatre
Shadbolt Arts Centre, Burnaby
November 26-27

(This is Jerry's review from 2004)

He wowed George Lucas and now he's wowed me--again. I thought I might be the last person in Vancouver not to have seen this show. I'm certainly the last critic. But if the sold out houses for this Fringe holdover are any indication, there are still a few out there. Or maybe they're returnees. Charlie Ross's work is so impressive that you want to come back again and share the thing with your friends.

Like the One Man Lord of the Rings, Ross distills all three parts of Star Wars into one hour without the help of props, costumes, lights, recorded sound or anyone else on stage. All the familiar characters are there--Luke Skywalker and the Droids, Hans Solo and Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Chewbacca the Wookie, Yoda and Jabba the Hut. Ross does all the characters and actions--including the starship battles in space- -as well as the music and sound effects. He cuts through a whole whack of script by saying "exposition exposition exposition exposition exposition" and gently mocks some of the conventions of the films. Luke has a sister! How do we know it's Leia? "Well, she's the only woman in the movie." But as with Lord of the Rings, he draws humour mostly from his quick transitions and our shock of recognition when a gesture or two evokes a character or a whole scene.

He's not above adding a running sex gag or two--a quick "schwing!" and erection when the Princess makes eyes at one of the boys. But there's a basic purity about his work that's really almost poignant. It's like watching a little kid playing at Star Wars, evoking a time before computers and video games and all the techno-toys that mediate between ourselves and the world to which we apply our imagination.

Of the two shows I personally preferred Lord of the Rings, because I'm a much bigger fan of that story and those movies, and because the fight scenes are better, more varied and complicated. But either way, Ross's one-man trilogies are something to see.

Jerry Wasserman

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