Just because anything can be turned into a play or musical does not mean that it should be turned into a play or musical. The Exorcist, for anyone that has missed a few decades, is a frightening book written by William Peter Blatty. For those of us that don’t read, he also wrote the Academy Award winning screenplay for the movie version The Exorcist. Basically, a twelve year old girl becomes possessed by the demon Pazuzu.
Sounds like the perfect idea for a play, right? It was an amazingly successful book and the movie opened the material up to an even wider audience. Besides, the plays initial run in Los Angeles managed to secure John Doyle, famous for making actors do musicians’ work, as director and Teller, from Penn and Teller, to work on some of the stage effects. Then there’s the fact that John Pielmeier (Agnes of God) signed on as playwright. That’s intriguing! Plus, Brooke Shields in the Ellen Burstyn mother role… Well, alright, that’s some interesting casting.
Really, though, whether or not the show is any good, it’s going to have a problem taking audiences away from the movie. The movie has become an icon of the horror genre, and it’s a little hard not to have people not expect to see pea soup and head spinning (SPOILER: These both were cut from the stage version). That’s alright, though! The writing and creative team were looking to stray away from the horror and go straight for the movie’s other strength: psychological thriller.
So far so good.
Then the reviews started coming in. It should be noted that a lot of reviews mentioned they did like the special effects. They were also fond of the fact that the male ensemble of priests provided the voice of the demon. Well, that’s really about all they liked.
Oh, well. Pop in Leslie Nielsen’s Repossessed and call it a day.