Comedy Festival 2008, SkyCity Theatre
May 6-10 | Reviewed by Darren Bevan

LET’S MAKE this clear: there is little point seeing this show unless you’re a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, or can recall it well, as your partner’s made you watch it plenty of times before.

At times, Charles Ross resembled a kid, who after a particularly heavy sugar intake at a party, running around on stage making lots of noise and rushing about quicker than they can speak. He came on stage in a black boiler suit outfit, to a starry background and then proceeded to launch into the 20th Century Fox fanfare using only his mouth and a microphone, before taking the mickey out of the initial opening credits (“There they go, the credits, where did they come from?” he sang at one point) and a favourite of mine, “Exposition, exposition, exposition – or for the kids out there, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

In some ways it’s hard to mock Star Wars – some of the dialogue itself is so creaky and absurd, it’s close to falling into parody. (Although in its defence, it stood up well in the 70s.) So Ross chooses to be a little cleverer in how he tackles it – he turns C3PO into an uptight English man, reduces Luke Skywalker to the whiny teen he always was in the film (complete with feathered hair), Ben Kenobi into Pinocchio and makes Han Solo a crotch grabbing jock. All of these with just a flourish of his hands.

His impression of the sound effects of the films and the ships is spot on – it’s as if he’s spent hours honing the very sounds Lucasfilm created. Although early on, I began to wonder if just simply going through a potted version of the script using flourishes of the hand was enough to sustain an hour. But it’s almost as if Ross had used his Jedi mind tricks on me, and started to unleash little bits of commentary on the absurdities of the script like why Obi Wan never told Luke about his father (“I forgot”) and Luke to Darth at the climax of Return of the Jedi (“I thought you were black”).

That said, most of the show’s success is squarely on Ross’ shoulders as he unleashes spot on impressions of either the characters – Yoda at one point sounds like a horse – or the ships – his impression of an AT-AT in action and being felled and the probes in Empire Strikes Back were stunning.

My favourite part of the night was the running theme that all of those schlubs who worked for the Dark Side and were promoted were wetting themselves in fear they’d end up dead – cue Ross using his hands on his trousers to make it look like the spread of fearful urine.

I left the show amused, but also reminded how evocative John Williams’ score to the trilogy was, and continues to be. Each time Ross began singing a note I knew exactly which part of the film he was talking about; that, along with the pathos between the interaction of Han and Chewbacca just prior to his freezing in the Empire Strikes Back reminded me why I loved these films, as well as why they continue to still strike a chord 30 years on.

Ross came back on stage after the show to have a chat – and explain how the show had evolved from a 20 minute comedy sketch which went wrong to the mega juggernaut which saw him perform to 4000 geeks at a comic con prior to Lucasfilm letting him tour it.

He then teased us with how he’s ready to bring the One Man Lord of the Rings trilogy (“which has the same story, the same black boiler suit costume”) to New Zealand, and toyed with us with a note perfect rendition of the Gollum/Smeagol scene from the Two Towers. All I can say, is hurry back Mr Ross, I’m ready for the precious.