#TruthbombTuesday—Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark isn’t very good. Despite 60-some odd previews, several opening night delays, and 2 months of performance and rehearsal, the behemoth of a musical is in a shambles.
It pains me to say that. Honestly. I’ve spent the last few months playing the role of Spider-Man’s biggest apologist and defender and not because I’m on Julie Taymor’s payroll. It’s just… After seeing the show in early December, I really did believe there was a great musical buried in the rubble. And all the delays that set jaws across the universe flapping seemed so positive to me…like the creators and producers must have seen the same things I did.
But I can’t keep lying to myself. No matter how much potential I see in the material–even after a second visit in early February–I can only review the show Taymor and Co. put in front of me. And despite all those previews and rehearsals, despite all the changes they’ve made, the honest to fuck truth is that Spider-Man sucks. Still.
Here’s a brief selection of reasons why:
Thing that Sucks: That stupid spiders dancing in shoes scene.
Reason it Sucks: Because it exists. God only knows why. Perhaps because Julie Taymor loves the costumes? Or the visual of women with 8 (mostly fake) legs slinking around the stage? Whatever the reason, the scene is fucking ridiculous and totally unnecessary. And whatever that scene purports to achieve, I promise you, it could be done without some shoehorned in and immediately discarded storyline about purloined shoes. Deeply Furious? Really? Well, I’m deeply furious I had to sit through that hot mess. It’s one of the worst scenes in the entire show. In fact, it may be one of the worst scenes happening on the Broadway stage right now, period.
Thing that Sucks: The Ugly Pageant.
Reason it Sucks: A parade of badduns’ strutting down a runway toward the audience and then vanishing? Talk about useless scenes. This one also features unnecessary characters that appear and disappear within seconds for reasons which aren’t entirely clear. And a man in fake dreadlocks playing a 10-gallon plastic pickle tub and singing reggae for…reasons which aren’t entirely clear. Are you sensing the theme here?
Thing that Sucks: The mid-air dream sex sequence.
Reason it Sucks: Look, I totally get that you’re trying to up the stakes on the relationship between Arachne and Peter Parker, but in a show with absolutely no discernable sexual tension between characters, a cringe-worthy, mid-air, dirty dream is not the way to do it. It’s just facepalmingly stupid and literally laughable. Plus, what IS Arachne in that scene? She sort of leaves her spider body, but she doesn’t become a human, either, so…it’s just…confusing. Besides. If I’m going to have to watch some kind of bizarre sex scene with Reeve Carney, I at least want him to be mostly naked, not fully clothed.
Thing that Sucks: The Geek Chorus.
Reason it Sucks: I know, the universe loves Gideon Glick. I got it. Too bad his character in the Geek Chorus is stupid and useless. You know, just like all the members of the Geek Chorus. Traditionally a Greek Chorus is used to provide a moral center, expounding on the themes and values of a play for the audience. This Geek Chorus just keeps rudely interrupting the musical you’re watching to bounce around like over-caffeinated chimpanzees, and makes you wish you could push them off the stage. Stop telling me about this great story you’ve got and SHOW it to me. I know, I know. “Show don’t tell” is a classic problem for writers—excusable if you’re some kid in a Freshman Creative Writing seminar over at NYU. Frankly, I expect better of Broadway.
To be honest, though, it’s not all hate for me. God only knows why that mess of a show doesn’t just make me want to kick things 100% of the time. But there are at least two things I love, which I thought I’d be charitable and share.
Thing I Love: Reeve Carney.
Why I Love It: In pictures, Reeve appears so pretty and delicate it’s almost impossible to imagine him as a gawky high school student OR a beefy superhero. But somehow, on that stage, he manages to downplay his pretty and turn the volume up on the awkward to create an appropriately nerdy Peter Parker. Plus, he can sing real good—there’s something lovely and unexpected about his voice, perhaps because he seems so fragile and his voice is decidedly un-fragile—but eff it all, let’s be honest, Carney is just plain hot, and I always like to see that in the theater.
Thing I Love: The flying.
Why I Love It: I’m not much for stage tricks. Especially when those tricks and effects clearly took away from the time and effort devoted to the ACTUAL SHOW. But I have to say, I got really amped up when Spidey flew. Every time. And anyone in the audience who claims they didn’t get excited is lying.
…Actually, maybe they should just make the whole show flying, throw in some explosions and car chases and call it a day. I think I’d rather watch that and I’m pretty sure with another 60 million dollars or so, Julie Taymor could pull it off.