Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kindred Spirit

[Note:  Am back home now.]

I met a kindred spirit last night at Spider-Man:  Turn off the Dark.  (Yes, having finally seen it, I now understand the subtitle.  Well, “understand” in the broad sense of the word.  Like how you understand the matter/anti-matter engines on Star Trek.  It makes sense on the surface, but when you look behind it, there’s no there there.)

OK, so, about two-thirds of the way through the first act (which wasn’t going nearly as badly as I’d been led to believe – look, I paid my money to see a $65 million train-wreck) – yeah, anyway, about two-thirds of the way through the first act, there was a moment of jaw-dropping badness.  I mean, they’ve got about 10 actors playing Spider-Man, between the one actually singing the role and the ones doing backflips and the ones flying around the theatre – but, at one point, Spider-Man rushes in to catch a baby falling from a burning building and they do this with an oversize cartoon drawing of a (massive) baby falling from the top of the stage, and then the giant cartoon Spider-Man hand moving on in just underneath it while we hear an offstage voice yell, “My baby!”  Stupid?  Oh my yes.  Silly?  Outrageously.  Enough, in fact, to make the guy sitting next to me start laughing his butt off.  He could barely stop.

So, at intermission (when, because we apparently live in bizarro-world, I overheard people say how much they were enjoying the show), I turned to the guy next to me and said, “The baby was too much for you, huh?”

We start comparing notes.  He, too, was there to see this train wreck of a musical.  I pointed out that I thought the first act was salvageable, although, when you got right down to it, the only thing that was genuinely GOOD about it was the set design.  So, dude and I were just nodding in the silence saying, “Yeah, sets were really great.”  “Mm-hmmm.  Really great sets.”

Dude told me that, from all he had heard, the second act would be a lot worse.  I sort of hoped so.  (Look, I want the show to succeed – and I think that their current plan of closing it down for a few weeks and doing a massive rewrite is an excellent idea.  BUT, I didn’t have a stopover in New York just to see a mediocre show.  I wanted to see a piece of crap that I could tell my friends in L.A. about.)  I noted (eagerly) that the song “Deeply Furious” was still in the song list – I’d heard that they were going to cut that one and was hoping I’d still get to see it.  It apparently involved the Goddess Arachne (and the Furies, who, for some inexplicable reason, were also 8-legged) singing about shoes.

And, indeed, they did.  Imagine a woman standing inside … you know how a baby has a round walker the baby stands inside?  Picture one of those, except instead of plopping the kid in a cylinder with wheels on the bottom, it is a four legged thing.  And the legs are, y’know, ACTUAL LEGS.  Human legs.  (Well, fake human legs.)  Wearing high heels.  Now imagine the woman inside also wearing high heels.  (The other two legs are, of course, her arms.)  Now imagine her throwing a couple of the fake legs around with her arm legs, like she’s doing the can-can and flashing her drawers at you.  And singing about shoes.

And this was ONLY ONE of the insanely ridiculous things that went on in the second act of this show.  (I’m hesitant to actually describe the plot here, because it would be a spoiler – but can you legitimately spoil something that is already rotten to the core?)  When the whole things ends up resolving itself like Phantom of the Opera, it was my turn to have the uncontrollable laughing fit.

And the most inexplicable thing of it all was that at the end of the show, everyone around us actually stood up to give it a standing ovation.  I turned to the guy next to me and said, “Not if my life depended on it” at the same time he turned to me and said, “No way in hell.”

It was, in fact, spectacularly awful.

I hope they rework it and make a genuine hit.  But I’m really glad I saw this, and that it lived down to expectations.

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