Greg Pyne aka Fool of a Took writes: While spending part of my holiday in Scotland, I had the privilege of seeing Charles Ross perform his One Man Lord of the Rings show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a performance consisting of all three movies by one single, highly motivated individual. “40 characters. 3 masterworks. 3600 seconds. One Man to do it all.”
And he did.
Charles Ross is better known for his One Man Star Wars show (http://www.onemanstarwars.com), which has garnered acclaim from Spin magazine, Conan O’Brien, and The New York Times among others. He has performed the show over a 1000 times across the globe. Perhaps he never thought that another mega trilogy would come along that would have the same impact as Star Wars.
Then along came Rings.
I was happy just to sit down to anything related to LOTR, but I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. When Ross walked on to a bare stage (actually just a patch of ground around a makeshift amphitheater) wearing a jumpsuit- no costumes or props, not even a ring- an ever so slight “Hmm” crossed my lips. Could he actually…
My thoughts were interrupted as Ross launched into Fellowship of the Ring. I sat entranced, enthralled. His impression of each character was dead on, from Gandalf’s gruff voice to Legolas’s airy exposition (each statement by Legolas including a motion indicating the brushing of Orlando’s blonde tresses). His segue from scene to scene was flawless, and the dialogue between characters was seamless. With unique body language and sound effects, it was not hard to visualize the scene taking place. Each jump, run, arch, stumble, clutch, reach, and pose struck seemed to paint the scene as Ross’s energy pulled us along the condensed narrative. He paused only for a drink of water between movies, changing the lyrics to the end credits song to explain how thirsty he was. Fellowship. Sip. Two Towers. Sip. Return of the King. Sip. On with the show.
Ross weaved in humor throughout. My wife and I were left crying with laughter as he impersonated Denethor, with arched eyebrows and his two arms acting at both sides of his head in a V-shape indicating Denethor’s long hair. As Denethor orders Pippin to sing in his chamber, Ross portrays Pippin as gagging his way through his song as he watches Denethor stuff his face with food.
Other highlights included his portrayal of Gollum: Andy Serkis could have a voice double if he needed one in Charles Ross.
Ross ended his show to loud applause and then talked to the audience about how he developed the show and his love for both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I had a chance to speak with him after the show, and we touched on how a work like Lord of the Rings inspires creativity: you want to add to the magic of the books, by adaptation or commentary, or you are inspired to create a unique work of your own. His love for Lord of the Rings is a clear homage to Tolkien and the movies.
And hey, if the apocalypse hits, killing all the electricity on the planet, and we’re reduced down to sticks and stones and campfires again: there’s still two great trilogies to see. Just find Charles Ross.