Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Spider-Man Did Turn Off Some of the Dark – Part 1

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    The show started with the announcement, “Welcome ladies and gentlemen and all uninvited critics.”

    The first noticeable difference was the opening. Originally, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark opened in the middle of a major action scene, which was cut very short and immediately dumped into the long origin story of Arachne. Now, instead of suffering through the emo-Greek Chorus, the first person we actually see on stage is Peter Parker!

    He is reading his essay on Arachne, though, so we are thrown back into her origin scene from Spidey 1.0 and, unfortunately, the one cool bit of staging in the her scene malfunctioned so the weaving effect did not work. This Arachne portion was much shorter (maybe this show isn’t about her!) and we are quickly introduced to Peter’s high school life. There was more dialogue and attention given to the development of his relationship with Mary Jane Watson, a little more dialogue with Flash Thompson and even a mention of Liz Allan and Gwen Stacey.

    The show started with the announcement, “Welcome ladies and gentlemen and all uninvited critics.”

    They still take their school trip to Norman Osborn’s lab, which I am sad to say maintained its Spencer Gifts interior design theme. Patrick Page, who is indeed a very fine actor, blessedly dropped the previously annoying Foghorn Leghorn accent and I am happy to report that the Green Goblin is now the central villain! The new version has Norman throughout. Not only that, but he also has a direct tie-in to the Sinister Six, as he is the one who creates them.

    Yes, yes I know. What the hell, right? This, in and of itself, is a crime against comic nature, but listen, the original version of this play was SO BAD, that any attempt to create a central theme, even a poorly written one, is welcome.

    Even staunch purists would find themselves bargaining with the situation saying, “Well at least they’re not on a catwalk this time!” The upside of this bizarre plot point, is that it gives a reason for the other villains to be in the show at all, albeit a kind of crappy one where originally there was no reason for their presence. Norman has a lot more development as a character, as well as a deeper relationship with his wife, Emily. We find out that Viper World Wide wants his genetic research for nefarious purposes, and he initially refuses to give in. He meets Peter and commends him on his knowledge in the field. There is actually a bond formed, as Norman passes on sagely advice to Peter.

    Then Peter is bitten. A franchise is born.

    We are treated to actual character development of Aunt May and Uncle Ben. They are given more than one scene, and while Uncle Ben still does not deliver the “With Great Power…” line he does explain to Peter the difference between knowledge and wisdom, and other assorted Uncle Ben-type guidance. At least the re-write showed him giving loving advice, which provides some reason why Peter would actually miss his him post-mortem.

    I was very pleased with the tangible increase of Peter’s family presence. What else is Spider-Man driven by if not love for his family? It was one of my biggest gripes last time around. In Spidey 1.0 there was no pathos, no motivation, no morals instilled by solid parenting.

    After the exact same original scenes of Peter in his bedroom dealing with his new-found powers and fighting with bullies at school, Peter becomes jealous when Flash shows off his new car and is able to drive M.J. to her theater rehearsals. (I am pleased to say that UNLIKE the first version, it is not Flash’s new and stolen car that ultimately takes Uncle Ben from us, but I am less pleased to report that U2’s “New Years Day” was playing on his radio – really?)

    Peter decides that he can make some money with his powers when he sees the ad for the wrestling match. The advertisement for the wrestling match/prize money blows across the stage into Peter. The effect is cool, if it works. The problem is that the effect is achieved by a guy on his back on a skateboard, dressed all in black, rolling across the stage moving with the paper on a stick, as if the breeze was carrying it. As he approached Peter he crossed through the spotlight. The audience did laugh, fairly loudly where I was sitting, because it looked like a ninja on a luge slowly and methodically rolled

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