One Man Star Wars
The short run of One-Man Star Wars™ Trilogy at San José Repertory Theatre is exactly what the title promises -- all three of the good (a.k.a. Jar Jar Binks-free) George Lucas films, rushed through in about 90 intermission-less minutes by one guy on an empty stage in a black jumpsuit, five-toed shoes, a headset microphone, and a disco ball-cum-Death Star explosion(s).
Canadian Charles Ross is in his tenth-and-a-half year of touring the show around the globe, completing more than 1200 performances with the blessing of Lucas’s company (hence the ™). He energetically (although sometimes gasping more than Darth Vader) provides the edited dialog, snippets of the John Williams score, plus CG and SFX.
If you like preaching to the converted, as well as these films (like the folks who attended opening night dressed as Leia and company), then it’s an accurate abbreviated reproduction, but not much more.
Ross’s asides are limited and tepid, and feel a decade dated, as if they were created spontaneously a long time ago, during some show far, far away, and were then incorporated into the script. His post-show "talk-back," a short story about the show’s genesis, felt more authentically connected.
Ross has a dead-on R2D2 whistle, instantly recognizable Jabba the Hutt lips, and a decent Leia head tilt (who, Ross reminds us, is the only woman in the movie, so she must be all things to all men -- and Ross cautions the audience "don’t ever kiss your sister that way").
He also offers a moderately angsty Luke shrug. Some of the "unscripted" asides continually reference Luke’s feathered hair and his whining, as well as his confusion with the metric system; and those exposed to Vader’s withering gaze and pincher fingers pee their pants a lot.
Family Guy’s animated take on the trilogy, "Laugh It Up, Fuzzball" -- with its "Blue Harvest" (the actual title of the shooting script for "A New Hope"); "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side" (for "The Empire Strikes Back"); and "It’s a Trap!" ("Return on the Jedi") -- offers homage with a healthier serving of modern commentary on the sci-fi classics.
It’s fun to play in material you love, and it can be rewarding to see a different take on material you know well. As Ross enters his second decade, a re-working of the show, or more improvisational openness, might freshen up its dynamic comedic potential. May the farce be with him.
"One Man Star Wars" played July 14-17 at San Jose Repertory Theatre. For information on this traveling production, visit www.onemanstarwars.com/