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Show Review - Redacted Arachnid

Bono pops up all over the place doesn’t he? 

Obviously we see him a lot doing his usual job of being an international rockstar with U2 - but he also doubles that up with being a charity guru during his down time, spending an awful lot of hours flying round the world to big posh gigs reminding us all how poor some people are. Add onto that his sideline of hacking into your iTunes account and populating it with his own collection and you get a feel for just how busy the guy is. Not so busy though as to avoid getting involved with the biggest flop of a show that the world has ever seen. Yep, he was the producer for that as well. 

Starting in 2002 - the tale of ‘Redacted Arachnid’ (or Spider-Man to you, me and everyone else who doesn’t run the risk of a double lawsuit from Disney & Sony) unravels the mystery behind Bono’s dream of getting one over on Andrew Lloyd Webber....and fantastically failing at it. This true story of musical theatre’s biggest ever flop ($65 million - only marginally more than I lost on a Pinter revival here in 2001) which should have been the industry’s greatest ever success but became its longest running joke. 

Retelling the story of that doomed Spidey stage production, this is an hilarious repackaging of the true events that saw one of the comic book world and big screen’s greatest ever successes reduced to a laughing stock by a company of producers doomed from the start. Cast members were injured; creative teams switched every two minutes; producers died (!) and a convoluted story was written that not even someone with the warped brain of an international super villain could dream up. Spider-Man the musical had it all.

And this production from ‘Maybe you like it’ productions has it all as well. Some superb characters delivered with fantastic comic skill, a fast paced and energetic ensemble and possibly some of the best ‘worst dancing’ I’ve seen at this year’s fringe. (And I’ve seen quite a bit). The cast for this show are wonderful to watch - clearly enjoying every second of their performance at Roman Eagle Lodge and that’s exactly what this show needs - an irreverent look at one of the industry’s biggest ever mistakes. 

The direction is slick, the interaction with lights and sound well rehearsed and there are some fantastic comic moments. I particularly liked the way that each character name was changed to protect the innocent - or the company bank account as it’s also known. It gave Marvel nerds like me a real giggle at the Easter Egg wordplay and I also enjoyed the opening moments where (deliberately) clumsy bleeps in the famous Spidey theme tune gave us a quick laugh but protected the production from a day or two in the courts. 

An interesting inclusion into the show is the denouement - a verbatim retelling of a car crash interview that the original cast were required to attend as part of the show’s press round. Ludicrous as this interview is, this switch from the marvellous (no pun intended there but I’m keeping it anyway) writing of the first three quarters of the show to this ‘real’ moment created a marginal dip in the energy of the piece. While I totally understood it’s value (and it was fascinating to watch) I think I would have preferred to have seen an edited version of these moments and more character gags from this talented cast. 

I will be keeping an eye out for more productions from this company in the future. They are clearly going places. Unlike the unfortunate guy who played the webbed wonder. He’s just limping to them. 

‘Redacted Arachnid’ is playing at C Aquila (Roman Eagle Lodge) until 17th Aug at 10:40pm.




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