There must be magic in the water. Recently, we’ve had both Ghost Stories, with input from Andy Nyman, and Play Dead, co-written and directed by Teller, weaving techniques from conjuring and illusion into narratives. Now, Teller is working on the stage production of The Exorcist. All of them dealing with spooky stuff, designed to scare the audience, and using the stage magician’s skill set to do so.
We know about Teller’s work on the show because of a press release sent round by the magician’s reps, ostensibly to squish rumours of Penn and Teller splitting up. In truth, says the press release, Teller’s in London working on The Exorcist and Penn is filming in New York for The Celebrity Apprentice. Which is, finally, some sort of reason to watch (bits of) The Celebrity Apprentice.
As I reported in May, this incarnation of The Exorcist has been written by John Pielmeier, the author of Agnes of God. Also from that report:
Unlike William Friedkin’s film of The Exorcist (which isn’t anywhere near the best film of all time, just for the record), this play will “focus on the psychological aspects and questions of faith.” At least, that’s according to Ken Novice, the MD of New York’s Geffen Playhouse, where the play will premiere in July 2012. I can see that the film is at least supposed to focus on those same things, and when it works, it’s because it does.
I think it’s going to be more powerful than green pudding and spinning heads. Not that the show will be without some kind of theatrical effects. It’s still going to be very interesting to look at. There will be a spectacle to it, but we don’t want people coming in and expecting the movie.
I imagine Teller is more than capable of delivering this spectacle. He’s an incredible encyclopedia of technique. If there’s a trick in the old play book that will suit, he’ll know it.
Interestingly, The Exorcist, at least in the filmed version, portrays a world in which demons are real. This is not Teller’s world view. Indeed, here’s a little video on the subject of exorcisms from Penn and Teller’s Bullshit, starting with Penn’s commentary on “the assholes that made that movie.”
The Exorcist is coming to Broadway next year. Seeing as it’s being developed in the UK, can we see it in the West End too?