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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Enlisted by a team of honor students for a seminar on superheroes, a mild-mannered professor discovers his inner obsession. Assuming the powers of a novelist, teacher, playwright, and scholar, Professor Chris Gavaler embarks on a mission to unlock the secrets of the multiverse.

Scene One. JULIE TAYMOR (played by Julianne Moore) is arguing backstage with PRODUCER, a sixty-year-old roadie, with fuzzy hair and beard, dressed in jeans and a U2 concert T-shirt. He’s smoking a joint.  JULIE wears the remains of a Lion King costume, most of which has been shredded from her body, exposing her left breast in an act of tasteful and artistically appropriate nudity. The first notes of the opening song, “The Show May or May Not Go On,” squeak from the orchestra pit. Enter GREEN GOBLIN (played by Willem Dafoe). He is painted green with pointy ears, but with an oversized white neck brace and matching foot cast. He walks with a pair of crutches. Ropes connect his harness to the unseen flyrail. PRODUCER bursts into song . . .

PRODUCER

Julie, when will we open?

JULIE

I keep on hoping,

but I just don’t know if or when.

GREEN GOBLIN

This costume is cheesy, I hate that trapeze,

oh god I hope they don’t drop me again.

PRODUCER

This isn’t funny. I’m out of money.

JULIE

I just need another million or ten.

A strange moving presence churns in the shadowy upper recesses of the stage. Its enormous, spider-like body hovers above the cast, almost but never quite bobbing into view. One of its tentacles gestures at a doorway, which is immediately bathed in light. Enter IAGO (played simultaneously by a midget set designer and Taymor’s trusted writing partner, a giant talking pencil). Tempo slows as IAGO starts to belt out “We Need You, Bono”

IAGO

If only there were someone,

someone who could save us.

PRODUCER

A hero to get things done?

IAGO

Instead of making all this fuss.

GREEN GOBLIN

Can he stave off these reviews?

PRODUCER

And shave the budget? That’s a must.

JULIE

We’re only in previews. You’re such a wuss.

Power chord. Dramatic light change. Enter BONO (played by Ben Stiller) with supermodel CHRISTY TURLINGTON (played by supermodel Christy Turlington) and a CHORUS of identical, red-lipped models from that old Robert Palmer video. BONO is carrying an almost empty six-pack of Stella Artois.  All, including BONO, wear tops that expose their left breasts. The CHORUS pretends to play instruments as BONO sings “(I’m a) Pissin’ Philanthropist.”

BONO

I save the world and I do it pissed.

Bend over AIDS, here comes my fist.

African debt, give my junk a kiss.

Cause I’m a pissin’ philanthropist.

CHORUS

Because he’s a pissin’ philanthropist!

ALL (except JULIE)

Oh yeah, he’s a pissin’ philanthropist!

PRODUCER

Bono, can you get us out of debt?

JULIE

Without touching my post-modern sets?

BONO

This is Broadway not the bleedin’ Met.

JULIE

It’s about vision, not the gross and net.

CHORUS

Yeah, but you’re not a pissin’ philanthropist!

ALL (except JULIE):

Oh no, she’s not a pissin’ philanthropist!

JULIE

I make art!

BONO

You make farts.

GREEN GOBLIN

This show’s a farce.

BONO

Eat my arse.

CHORUS

Because he’s a pissin’ philanthropist!

BONO attempts to drop his pants, trips, and passes out face down center stage. All stare in silence. The spider monster in the shadows stirs. Orchestra begins “Changes Suck” which plays under the conversation, while IAGO makes a pass at TURLINGTON.

PRODUCER: Okay, so we need to fix the songs as best we can, come up with a new ending.*

JULIE: It is not easy to change anything, but now I think it is a matter of lyrical and musical changes — *

IAGO and TURLINGTON

It’s always so hard. Changes aren’t easy.

JULIE: And perhaps cutting a scene or two from the second act.*

IAGO and TURLINGTON

They make me feel strange. They make me feel sleazy.

GREEN GOBLIN: Maybe we could cut—AAAAAAAAAAAAH!

A black tentacle yanks GREEN GOBLIN out of view and then drops his body in a mangled pile, before yanking him up again, repeating the process through the duration of the show and then long, long afterwards. The song stops as the cast and orchestra turn and watch until bored.

JULIE: Okay. Good meeting. Let’s reconvene tomorrow.

All begin to leave, except IAGO, who smiles at JULIE and lovingly paws her exposed breast. He watches her exit until satisfied that he is alone, and then he steps toward the shadows.

IAGO: Master?

The monster descends. It is THE EDGE (played by an enormous, eight-tubed sock puppet animated by thirty-seven stagehands).

THE EDGE: You have completed the scenes as I instructed?

IAGO: Best not to mention anything to J.*

THE EDGE: Then the time is ripe to implement . . . Plan X!*

IAGO: Please know that anything you need from me — I’m at your service.*

THE EDGE: Plan X will crush Julie’s naive artistic ambitions and plunge this show into blockbuster mediocrity! MWAHAHAHAHA!

IAGO: Is that ‘X’ as in the letter ‘x’ or the Greek number ‘ten’? Because by my count—

THE EDGE: Silence, human. Bring me my focus groups!

Lights out. Scene Two. Opening Night. Enter PRODUCER and BILL CLINTON (played by Robert Palmer) in matching tuxedos that expose their left breasts. BONO and JULIE are in the corner of the stage having sex. Orchestra plays “A Freak Like Me Needs Company,” a song added to the show after JULIE was fired.

PRODUCER

All the weirdos from out of town
And all the freaks always around
All the weirdos in the world
Are here in New York City tonight

BILL CLINTON: What an amazing and historic night on Broadway. New York has never seen anything like Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. And I am very proud of them for not giving up, it was fabulous.*

THE EDGE descends and devours CLINTON.

CLINTON: AAAAAAAAAAAH!

THE EDGE

If you’re looking for a night out on the town
You just found me
A freak like me needs company
I’m a 75 million dollar circus tragedy

JULIE: (shouting over BONO’s naked back) I am very excited. It’s opening night! I am delighted to be here. Also, I’m suing. These are very dark times.*

BONO: She’s clearly exhausted, overwrought.*

JULIE: Shakespeare would have been appalled!*

ALL
All the weirdos in the world
Are here right now in New York City

Lights out. Applause. No curtain call.

[*Things they actually said.]

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