MILLY’S ORCHID SHOW

Once so daring it left audiences in the teens and twenties baffled and/or screaming with rage, Dada performance has long since leaked into the mainstream by way of TV commercials, Fluxus-influenced rock performers, and absurdist comedians like Andy Kaufman and the early Steve Martin. Still, Blue Man Group are unsettling: with their shaved heads and glossy painted bodies, the robotic Blue Man men fuse the cool, alienated spirit of late Dada-Bauhaus performance–they look like a Mies van der Rohe wet dream–with Alfred Jarry’s proto-Dada shit-throwing hysterics. Especially since the blankly staring mannequinlike performers consistently challenge our notions of what is and is not art, what is and is not entertainment. One routine–a sort of circus act in which three performers catch marshmallows or paint balls in their mouths–turns into a critique of the artistic process when one performer spits out colors onto a canvas in a parody of abstract expressionism while another gently regurgitates a delicate phallic sculpture in the shape of his esophagus. As a preview to their extended run at Briar Street Theatre this fall, Blue Man Group will perform in the tenth-anniversary Milly’s Orchid Show–Brigid Murphy’s eclectic cabaret–along with monologuist Cheryl Trykv, rock group Poi Dog Pondering, and filmmaker and cartoonist Heather McAdams. Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959. Saturday, July 19, 8 PM (doors open 7 PM). $25. –Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Blue Man Group photo by Blanche Mackey, Martha Swope Studios.