MOTHER OF GOD! VS SPIDERMAN
As far as I know, Ben Brantley’s review of a Broadway production--Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark-–still in previews is unprecedented. It is theater etiquette not to review a show until it has officially opened, thus allowing the team time to gauge audience reaction and fix any problems that may thus be apparent before they are set in stone (or at least print). So in a normal situation—as if theatre is ever normal—I’d refuse to read such a ‘preview review’. In this case, however, I have to admit Brantley and reviewers from the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, The NY Post, among others who also recently reviewed the show have a point. In what can be seen as a brilliant marketing scheme, the production has been raking in the dough to packed houses (paying full price, for the most part) for months as opening night has been delayed again and again. For the most part audiences seem attracted to the spectacle in the media rather than a spectacle on stage: the press coverage of the excessive budget (at $65 million about par with the total amount of aide provided to the earthquake victims of Haiti), numerous accidents, celebrity guests and endorsements (finally something that Oprah and Glenn Beckcan agree on!) and it’s star-driven (and apparently just driven) team, includingJulie Taymor, and U2’s Bono and Edge. It seems that the most in the audience are there to see a trainwreck—some glitch in the mechanics, or, more gruesomely, an actor’s literal fall from grace, or just in the entire overblown production itself. Will these reviews, which have focused on such peripherals as plot, music, dialogue, acting and character and have been overwhelmingly negative put a damper on audience turn-out? It remains to be seen.
Just for fun, however, I’d like to compare my play, MOTHER OF GOD!, which will be in production next month, with the current production of SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK.