nytheatre.com review by Ross Chappell
August 15, 2004
In Comedeus, Andy Ross has created a manic, playful nightmare. This one-man performance is as bizarre and frenzied as it is funny. The audience repeatedly looked at each other while they were laughing as if to say, “Is this actually happening, or I am going to wake up soon?” I’d ask that the show be twice as long, but I fear poor Andy Ross would have a coronary before the end.
His bio touts that he “has been battling traditional theatre” for quite some time. If this show is representative of his work (and it seems to be), then he has been fighting the good fight. The performance is loosely his story of Comedeus (god of laughter) being exiled by Trutheus (god of realism). The story is only half the point of the performance, perhaps not even half the point. His riotous comedy—including meditating bunnies and interpretive dance to Debbie Gibson—is the real star of the show. He plays multiple roles and is fabulous as both comic and straight man. Granted, his straight-man moments are only seconds long, but he is incredible as his own foil.
Extemporaneous humor is evident throughout, as are Ross’s occasional ad lib and improv moments. He invades the audience several times during the show; sometimes hyper, sometimes disturbingly quiet. He also delivers his own interpretation of the Creation myth (licking the rib and tossing it aside after it has been pulled from his body). In one moment of over-acted despair, he asides “My Meisner training is showing through,” then proceeds to mock-cry as he repeats “My mother is dead; my mother is dead; my mother is dead” to motivate the mock tears.
The soundtrack for the show includes Madonna, B52’s, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson. The Creation music? “Eye of the Tiger,” of course. Through it all, he uses nothing more than a bottle of water, a folding chair, a scarf, and a black spandex suit that covers everything but his face. I could recount more, but the humor just doesn’t translate. You have to see it in person.
Though special lighting really isn’t necessary, the spectacle they have put together is phenomenal, and it supports the show wonderfully. The sound is also executed quite effectively.
This type of high-energy show generally requires a large audience to really work. I was astounded that he pulled the show off beautifully with an audience of no more than 15 or so. Add to that a single point (a death scene) when he portrays an incredibly human moment. This entire performance is a testament to just how talented Andy Ross is.