Adelaide Fringe 2011
One Man Lord of the Rings
Festival: Adelaide Fringe
An energetic and humorous portrayal of the popular trilogy, this one man show by Charles Ross is a highly entertaining hour of theatre. His vocal talents in imitating the actors from the films and making the sound effects was really superb. While thoroughly enjoyable as a performance, there were a few flaws that prevented this show from receiving a five star review.
This production consists of one man performing all the characters from the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. He also did the sound effects and music, and provided commentary for the audience. This talented actor convincingly portrayed each element of the movies to create a sense of the characters and relationships that reflected his source material. Anyone that has seen the film trilogy will thoroughly enjoy this fond rendering of the beloved movies.
The amount of energy required to fit so much plot and character development into such a short space of time was nothing short of impressive. This meant that some sections were inevitably raced through, which made some parts difficult to follow if you weren’t intimately familiar with the films. Ross managed to differentiate between the many characters, and gave each of them their own personalities, which was no mean feat considering the time he had to work in. His talent at imitating the voices of the actors from the film was uncanny. Frodo, Gollum, Denethor, Theoden, Gimili and Treebeard were especially well rendered. Aragorn and Gandalf were slightly less so, but still distinguishable. Ross’s sense of humour was spot-on, and his asides, and references to other media, such as the films The Matrix, Braveheart, and Babe, as well as songs like Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash and War by Edwin Starr were often hilarious, and may have gotten the biggest laughs. He was also very successful at creating a rapport with the audience, at times getting the audience to finish lines, or asking them to clap their answers to certain questions. Other moments that got big reactions from the audience were those when he poked fun at his material – for example, the absence of Tom Bombadil and the increased presence in the films of Liv Tyler as Arwen. The tongue-in-cheek script allowed Ross and the audience to affectionately poke fun at the films.
For any one who hasn’t seen the films, it may be difficult to understand a number of the jokes – even if you are familiar with the books. The music, cast, and scenes from the films are all referenced in detail. But if you enjoy the films (or, most especially if you are like me, and have seen each of the extended editions multiple times), then this is a real treat. Towards the end of the performance, the microphone was having difficulties and unfortunately Ross broke the fourth wall a little too much in talking about it. Though this probably won’t happen on subsequent nights, it did distract from the momentum and atmosphere being projected. A naturally low-budget production (one cast member, no props or costumes and only lighting and a microphone), Charles Ross created a show that feels much bigger, which is appropriate considering the epic subject matter.
I was essentially the target audience for this production, and hence enjoyed it immensely. The humour Ross projected, as well as his clear love for the subject, made it a thoroughly entertaining performance. While there were some flaws, there was still a great deal of pleasure to be gained and laughter to be had from the show and left me wanting to see the films all over again.