Less principled papers flouted the theater criticism convention of waiting until after opening night to publish their reviews of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, which, to be fair, was at one point supposed to have opened last night (the current opening date is March 15) and has already been through more preview performances than most shows have in total. So, what did the critics say? The opposite of Glenn Beck.
Ben Brantley is all zingers in the Times, including:
This production should play up regularly and resonantly the promise that things could go wrong. Because only when things go wrong in this production does it feel remotely right — if, by right, one means entertaining. So keep the fear factor an active part of the show, guys, and stock the Foxwoods gift shops with souvenir crash helmets and T-shirts that say “I saw ‘Spider-Man’ and lived.” Otherwise, a more appropriate slogan would be “I saw ‘Spider-Man’ and slept.”
The Post‘s Elisabeth Vincentelli is slightly less dismissive:
But in any Taymor spectacle, the performances are almost beside the point: It’s all about creating magic and transporting the viewer. Here, as impressive as the flying is, the wires are all too visible. They’re meant to make the characters soar, but they keep the audience tethered to the ground.
New York‘s Scott Brown resorts to endless hyperbole in order to muster some semblance of hope:
As a Spidey-story, Taymor’s show is a solid B-minus. (Some of the story basics get garbled and whiplashed, and basic foreknowledge of Spidey 101 is strongly recommended, especially for patrons over the age of 9.) As a pop-art installation treating the subject of pop art, however, the thing is off the scale. What you’re watching is the stem cells of a protean imagination dividing and dividing and dividing, right out of control… The result is savage and deeply confusing — a boiling cancer-scape of living pain — that is nevertheless thrilling.
The Daily News‘ Joe Dziemianowicz writes the most un-flowery take-down to date:
What I saw is a big production going in too many directions and in need of a lot of work to make it entertaining, satisfying and understandable.
For our part, we’ll wait until next month to risk our necks at the Foxwoods Theater.