One man, one microphone, a grey jumpsuit and wrap around moccasins. With nothing more than that Canadian actor Charles Ross brings you Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of The Rings’……
Throughout the ninety minutes and change Ross stalks his stage breathing life into Jackson’s world, through a combination of careful choreography, vocal mastery and mental agility. With minimal lighting changes we are transported from the mountainous outcrops of Moria, to the White City of Minas Tirith.
Be warned, not knowing the films going in is not detrimental but means some jokes will be lost in translation. His interpretation is faithful, very funny and poignant in equal measure, making this experience a home coming for the Middle Earth obsessive. Having watched the extended versions numerous times these characterisations are definitely more homages than impersonations, which go by at such lightning speed that a mere approximation is all you get. However this is more than enough for the faithful while laymen may find it a touch bewildering but none the less amusing. At times it is like witnessing a schizophrenic stage production as the combination of personalities, expressions, vocal work and body movement creates a wall of noise, from which Ross conjures Oriki, Elf and Wizard alike.
For those who frequently go to the theatre be aware there are no intermissions and Ross does not stop. I imagine there are many reasons for this chief amongst them being momentum. He is after all trying to keep your attention by creating a world from thin air. There is literally nothing on stage with him, so once he starts to metaphorically paint that canvas for you there can be no stopping. It is as much for him as anyone else.
Beyond staging this one man show most nights Charles Ross keeps himself surprisingly low on the radar. Having seen the show at GLive in Guildford I felt it prudent to find out a little more before writing this review. All I discovered were two websites. One for this show and another devoted to Star Wars based on the same premise. Within the public domain there are few interviews and less publicity shots. This above all is a surprise because Ross comes across as affable, intelligent, laid back and potentially very sarcastic. For someone who has been doing one man shows for thirteen years, there are clearly stories to tell and someone of interest beyond that.
In the final minutes when Middle Earth has been saved and Ross is finally dormant these stories immerge. Letting you in on the issues encountered with Lucasfilm, Tolkien’s estate and ultimately New Line Cinema, he tells it like a man who has fallen on his feet. Yes there is talk of percentages, copyright and meetings with Sir Ian McKellen but for me this was just icing on the cake. As a ‘Rings’ fan I consider this essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in the trilogy. Charles Ross is on tour now across the country until the eighteenth, while his website (below) can help you with booking details. My advice is to catch him quickly before he heads back to Canada. Apparently his house needs renovating.