One Man Star Wars (FringeTIX)
Charles Ross @ Royalty Theatre
7:00pm, Wed 28 Mar 2007
Now, I’m not a massive Star Wars fan; sure, I enjoy the films (yes, all of them – that’s how you can tell I’m not a massive fan) and have seen the original trilogy a couple of dozen times each. But – and here’s how you judge me in Star Wars fandom – I prefer Jedi over A New Hope because of the rockin’ climax with the Falcon spurting out of the flame-swollen Death Star.
But the Ewoks can go fuck themselves. So there; love the exciting bits, hate the Ewoks.
Skimming through the Guide, reading about a one-hour show in which one man performs the original Star Wars trilogy… it seemed like the stuff of legend. Or rampant tomfoolery. Or both. And Charles Ross – dressed in Jedi-Luke-black and performing with only the aid of a wireless microphone and a modicum of lighting – delivers the entire package… legend and tomfoolery.
There’s no point talking about the plot – but what is worth talking about is the editing. It’s incredibly tight, with the most protracted sequence being the 5 minute Rebel attack on the Death Star from Episode 4. Empire is the most heavily edited (and suffers somewhat because of it), but the tauntaun guts, the AT-AT battle (including a fantastic re-enactment of the first topple), the kiss, and the freezing of Han are all there. There’s no Ewoks – yay! – save for a few humorous references when recreating the Battle of Endor, but there is some great work for the rescue from Jabba’s palace, and Luke, Vader, and The Emperor’s final battle. And yes, Ross performs the characteristic opening text scrolls – edited and tweaked for laughs.
In fact, a lot of the material is played for laughs. Luke, in particular, is played as a whiny little shit, rather than the starkiller he was supposed to be – and Ross’ selection of dialogue merely serves to highlight how corny some of the Original Trilogy’s lines were. In fact, in cutting the three movies down to a total of one hour, Ross demonstrates how much fluff there actually is in the theatrical renditions. And – with wry asides to the audience, as well as references to Episodes 1-3 – he also makes this revisionist performance his own.
Throughout, Ross’ characterisations are generally wonderful – Jabba the Hutt and R2-D2 are the standouts, but he captured Han Solo’s swaggering mannerisms perfectly, and absolutely nailed The Emperor. Sadly, the one letdown was Yoda, who was noticeably weaker than the rest. Luckily, the strength of his mime – especially the Episode 4 trench run – more than made up for it.
Utterly brilliant, and bloody funny too. And it’s all done with permission of LucasFilm; imagine that meeting:
“Hi George. I want to perform the original Star Wars trilogy all around the world.”
“Don’t be so hasty, George. I’ll be performing it as a one-man show, cranking it all out in one hour. I do all the voices and sound effects myself, too. Listen – I’ve got a rockin’ R2-D2 – *beep*boop*whistle*. Check out this Y-Wing… *vroooom* And I look a tiny bit like Mark Hamill. If you squint.”
“Oh – OK then. Go forth with the blessing of George.”
That’s how it went. Really.