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January 05, 2011


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Bravo. Great piece of writing!

Gwydion Suilebhan

Fantastic evisceration. My heart, however, is sort of broken by how bad it seems to be.

Daniel John Kelley

This is pretty much exactly how I felt when I saw it. I will say that I saw Natalie Mendoza play Arachnae- which I'm not sure that you did- and she was easily the strongest thing in the show. Killer voice and hers were the only flying moments where I actually wasn't afraid for the actor- like you say, it was that safe circus fear- and I was actually like "ooo, cool, scary villain flying!" Too bad she left! Sigh.


Rise Above? Seriously? If you flub Uncle Ben's classic admonition, you have no business anywhere near a Spider-Man adaptation.

Brilliant writing, Isaac... really great job. Your breakdown of the worth of "a Spider-Man" made me bust a gut laughing.

Jeff Lewonczyk

Thanks for parsing this sad fever dream more expertly than I managed to do in my own mind. You nailed it.

Rob Kozlowski

Beautiful work, Isaac. I'm going to play copy editor for one second and let you know it *was* the Sinister Six in the comics and it's the Daily Bugle. :) I also think your last paragraph will officially, and for all time, create a new reference to currency in the vocabulary of Americans. For my part, I'm pretty sure the combined annual budgets of every theater in Chicago is about one Spider-Man.

Jeremy M. Barker

Bloody hell this is a fine piece of writing. Thanks!

Danny Bowes

Bravo, sir. This is a really terrific piece of criticism.


Brilliant writing! Thanks for posting


My husband and I were so glad we saw "Brief Encounter." We do not intend to see "Turn off the Dark." I also think that the show endangers actors' lives and careers 8x week, unnecessarily. From your review, it sounds like there's no acting going on, just bad writing.

Rob Everett

Agree with the reviewer on all points but I still thought the spectacle, acrobatic staging and inventive use of filmed animation and amazing special effects easily trumped the ponderous plot. The producers clearly need to trim and rework Arachne (and most of the second half) but there was also MUCH to love.

I am not a fan of the Spidey films nor the comics but I do love of a good origins story. The first half nailed this and was playful, campy and tight. Arachne certainly has the potential to become the villain/temptress character that all successful superhero stories employ.

But for all its obvious flaws I was happily entertained.


If the show were done, say, Indonesian-puppet style, the "flying" and "swinging" would have been conveyed imaginatively and theatrically, and would have been effective and thrilling, no doubt. The injuries and physical risk that we are seeing instead is a result of a literalmindedness that I thought Julie Taymor would be above. If there's anything worth conveying about the Peter Parker story (and fans of the character know there is), it's got nothing to do with how high/far he can swing on a web. To try to outdo the movies or a Spiderman stunt show at Universal Studios is silly and pointless, and, as we have seen, dangerous.

Doug Bost

Couldn't have said it better myself. And now I don't need to, I'll just point folks to this excellent review. By the way, why was the traffic going the wrong way down 42nd Street in the scene looking down from the Chrysler Building? And why did Pete's subway train out to Queens only have two cars? I got kind of swept up in how complete the badness was.

Eric Winick



Seriously, I think this is one of the best things you've written on this site. Well carved, sir.

Alan Sader

So maybe this explains why the Olympian theatre gods are angry enough to hurt people on the stage and threaten people in the audience with falling actors?


Excellent piece...and I agree with it all.


It's "Rafiki" :)


Really glad you posted such a thorough review. To hell with the whining about it only being in previews therefore immune from criticism. Guess what? You charge full price for your tickets and open your doors to the audience then you leave yourself wide open to criticism.


Amazing review. Brilliant.


"Her films and stage productions often feel like essays by a student possessed of great ideas but no understanding of grammar, sentence and paragraph structure nor any idea of why these things are valuable."


"You might note that the Winklevoss’ lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg settled out of court for a Spider-Man, that the most expensive apartment to buy in Manhattan costs exactly One Spiderman, that the US government has a Spider-Man to spend on developing fuel cell technology, or that the GOP spent a Spider-Man running anti-Nancy Pelosi ads in 2010."

I absolutely love this review. Total wonderfulness.


Isaac, you continue to astonish me. Thanks for being the wunderbar star you are.

Peter Michael Marino

Isaac, this is a terrific assessment of the show. I saw it 2 weeks ago and clearly it hasn't changed at all ... nor will it. Very smart, impressive observations. I made a video based on my experience, if you are interested in a laugh ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNkYQvV5w6g


Great work, Isaac. Jesus, this is a great piece of writing.


It seems like they have some work to do before officially opening! Yikes!

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