First, a confession: I am a Lord of the Rings film fanatic, nay zealot. Yes, I have watched all three extended editions in one day, yes, I have watched all the bonus features on each one of them, and yes, I can do an utterly terrifying Gollum impression. So take it from me that One Man Lord of The Rings, despite the impossible, brilliant energy of the performer Charlie Ross, falls a little short of the mark.
This is not to say that the performance is bad; in fact Ross proves himself to be a consumate performer. The show does exactly what is said in the title: one man; one hour; three films and hundreds of characters. Ross’ impressions are all serviceable and often brilliant: Denethor, Samwise and the Uruk Hai are all show highlights. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Aragorn, who has his moments but whose voice is lost somewhere in this maelstrom of a performance. Equally Ross’ interpretations of the films’ set pieces are often impressive; the sound effects he creates with his mouth echo the ent Treebeard perfectly. However, once again, these are not all perfect and both Galadriel’s madness and Gandalf’s death are underwhelming. This is probably the right time to mention the issue that Ross himself brought up between the Fellowship and the Two Towers: if you don’t know the films it would take a wizard to puzzle out the context of Ross’ exuberant leaps and facial expressions. If any of the things I’ve mentioned above baffle you, this probably isn’t the show for you.
This is not the main problem with One Man Lord Of The Rings, however. Although Ross’ performance is a superhuman feat, he misses the perfect opportunity to present a proper parody rather than a slightly odd tribute. This is particularly clear in his performance of the first two films where the jokes are few and far between and it feels as if Ross is simply going through the tropes and scripts rather than doing anything particularly fun with them. This is particularly clear when people burst into hysterics at ‘they’re taking the hobbits to Isengard’ not because of Ross but because of a meme. This changes in his performance of the last film, with more jokes about gay hobbits and Legolas’ character, but it all comes too late. If all the humour of the last film could be injected into the rest of the show, One Man Lord of the Rings would be a stroke of genius. In its current form it’s a little like the Shire, lovely when you’re there but ultimately twee and self-contained.