To understand every detail of Charlie Ross' One Man Star Wars Trilogy, it probably helps to have watched each of the original Star Wars films nonstop for several klekkets. (Shut up, found it on Wookieepedia.) But if you've only seen them, say, a half-dozen times, it's still highly entertaining.
For 80 minutes, Ross performs the major characters and plot points of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi—nothing from the prequels, thank Yoda, save for a reference to Natalie Portman—taking a short break between each for a swig of water and some well-deserved breath-catching. It's an astonishing feat.
He recaps the movies' highlights via verbatim dialogue and hilarious summaries and fanboy observations (why do they use the metric system?), and instantly captures the essense of the famous characters not only through vocal impersonations (or approximations) but also creative uses of hands, arms and fingers. Most inventive are Jabba the Hutt's mouth and Princess Leia's side-buns. That, combined with his constant footwork—agility of a dancer, mad pivot skills of an NBA star—make for a hypnotizing showcase of physical theater (Ross was, in fact, trained as a mime).
Sporting a navy blue jumpsuit and only occasionally aided by lighting effects, Ross conjures up this iconic galactic world pretty effortlessly, except that he works his butt off. He seems to be having the most fun during battle sequences, using his own sound effects of spacecraft firing and the lightsaber as it slices and dices. Fellow Canadian T.J. Dawe directed the show, which has toured the world since 2002 but is just now making its Texas debut.
Ross' comedic training is evident, and his funny sidebars emerge as the best of this thespianic geek-out. At the end, when Luke sees the real Darth Vader and reacts "I thought you would be black?," it's a little meta moment that makes you want to rush out and watch all three films—again. Isn't that the point, for Ross to share his love of Star Wars in his uniquely brilliant way?
One-Man Star Wars Trilogy repeats 8 p.m. March 6, 5 and 8 p.m. March 7, and 5 p.m. March 8 on the Main Stage at WaterTower Theatre.