Popular Culture

Briefly Noted: Spook Show


With ghosts, nudity, violence, and magic, the wickedly entertaining off-Broadway spook show Play Dead has been captivating crowds at New York's Players Theater since last November. Co-written and directed by Teller, the quieter half of the libertarian magic duo Penn & Teller, and starring Teller's co-author and fellow magician Todd Robbins, Play Dead is basically a 90-minute pseudo-séance, complete with audience participation.

This isn't the first time Teller has tackled the shady world of the supposedly supernatural. On Bullshit!, Penn & Teller's provocative Showtime series, the duo debunked the bogus claims of the superstar medium John Edward, explaining exactly how the Crossing Over host has hoodwinked his vast audience into believing he can talk to the dead.

Unlike Bullshit!, Play Dead never hits the audience over the head with its skepticism. Instead, Teller and Robbins simply announce that it's all an act and then put on a more spectacular show than the hucksters ever could.