Come ready for one man’s low-fi, high-energy version of the entire Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Charlie Ross shows off serious vocal gymnastics to re-create the bewildering majesty of the the films.
The opening night show was sold out (or close enough to be called that). The fans ranged from the Fringe’s loyal following, to die-hard cannon geeks, to people who were first introduced to the LOTR brand through Peter Jackson’s films. It was madness seeing all of them mingle together in the close confines of Waterfront Theatre: Nintendo handhelds rubbing shoulders with the older crowd, Fringe pitches flying through the air alongside passionate debates between the books and movies.
Here’s the intrinsic value of a show like One Man LOTR. It welcomes audiences who don’t normally get together (or even get along) and lets us know that we’re not that different, after all.
Make no mistake: this is not LOTR-lite. I’ve watched all of the extended editions (yes, back to back) but I still struggled with instantly identifying certain scenes. There’s some good-natured ribbing on the content: Legolas being identified by ongoing hair jokes, for example, or Frodo’s insistent whining throughout the whole journey. Some characters Ross impersonates with better success than others: Treebeard and Elrond were some of my personal favourites.
Ross further delights the geeky audience by drawing references to other movie and popular culture staples. I didn’t get them all, which is a good thing: there’s something on the scale for everyone.
It all comes out of one man. And that’s both the charm and the limitations of One Man LOTR. Charlie mentioned such when I talked to him earlier this month: how challenging it is to cast oneself in every single role. But, overall, the man pulls it off at a frantic pace.
By staying humble to his roots and true to the source material, One Man Lord of the Rings will continue to entertain for a long time yet.
One Man Lord of the Rings is part of Vancouver Fringe Festival’s new year-long series. More information here.