31-year-old Canadian import Charles Ross has created a career by channeling everyone’s inner eighth-grade geek. And I say that as a compliment.
For almost an hour, Ross reenacts the entirety of George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy. The show, appropriately titled One-Man Star Wars Trilogy is one masterfully taut piece of work, as directed by TJ Dawes. Ross, who also wrote the show on his own, clearly knows these movies inside and out, and with no sets, costumes, props, and only minimal lighting effects, he condenses roughly seven hours of intergalactic adventure into a solo act that borders on performance art. Ross doesn’t need the help of anyone else as he is his own special effect.
Ross’ uses his expert mimicry to portray, and more importantly, to distinguish all major and minor characters in the three films. Vocally, he is quite impressive; he nails R2D2 as well as Luke Skywalker’s (okay, really Mark Hamill’s) trademark whine. Some viewers of the original Star Wars may be disappointed that Ross does not include Hamill’s accidental line “Carrie!,” mistakenly directed to Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. While Ross’s other vocals might not be spot-on, they are nonetheless perfectly convincing. Ross’s physical dexterity is equally effective, whether he’s imitating Han Solo’s crotch grab or moving at a sloth’s pace as Jabba the Hutt. Careful viewers will even notice his slightly crossed eyes as he plays Yoda.
Of course, diehard fans will certainly glean more from Trilogy than those who do not know these film by heart, but since the films are so firmly woven into the fabric of American popular culture, it is quite easy to follow. For all of Ross’s discipline and this show, with its myriad characters and acrobatics, is quite a workout as he is also quite flexible onstage. One performance found him reacting in character to the sound of an audience member’s cell phone. He even managed to crack himself up when repeating Admiral Ackbar’s line “It’s a trap.” Apparently, this seen causes him to break up in performance often, proving that the material never gets stale after all these years of honing. That love is contagious.
In fact, when it comes right down to it, Ross’s Trilogy is a love story. It’s a love letter to Lucas, to fans of the films, and, really, to the films themselves. One has to assume that they served as an inspiration to Ross when he saw them as a child, and this film is an open love letter.
I can’t vouch for what Ross was like in the eighth grade, but I can say that the man who performed this show is currently quite personable. In fact, he is downright generous and humble. In a speech he delivers every night after the curtain call, he thanks the people that supported him throughout his career, and encourages his audience members to continue pursuing their dreams. They should pay heed. Trilogy’s run at Midtown’s Lamb’s Theater has again been extended to the end of the year. May the force be with him indeed.Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.