Saturday, 28 December 2013

Theatre review: American Psycho

Synopsis: Living the high life in 1980s Manhattan, Patrick Bateman has it all – looks, money, style and status. He and his entourage buy the most expensive designer clothes, eat at the most exclusive restaurants and party at the hottest clubs. But privately, Patrick indulges in another kind of transgression. And people - including those closest to him - keep disappearing.

Rupert Goold directs this musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's iconic novel, from the composer of Spring Awakening, which casts Patrick Bateman centre stage as an anti-hero for our time.

Cast: Matt Smith as Patrick Bateman. Ben Aldridge, Charlie Anson, Jonathan Bailey, Katie Brayben, Cassandra Compton, Holly Dale Spencer, Susannah Fielding, Simon Gregor, Holly James, Lucie Jones, Tom Kay, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Eugene McCoy and Hugh Skinner.

Rating:




Even if, like me, you've not seen the iconic film adaptation of American Psycho with Christian Bale in the titular role, or read Brett Easton Ellis' acclaimed source material, you've probably heard the story of the wealthy and body obsessed New York investment banker turned serial killer.

So going into this musical I was pretty much expecting one giant blood fest with added songs and jazzhands. And Matt Smith of course, who has handed over the reigns of his Tardis to Peter Capaldi to make the move from the small screen back to the stage after his nearly four-year long stint on Doctor Who. A singing doctor and lots of blood? It already sounded like a winner to me.


As soon as the performance started the audience was hit with an explosion of sound and light effects and the next two and a half hours felt and looked as if we were sat inside a 90s MTV music video. Not necessarily a bad thing, but quite an adjustment after a quiet day in the office. The whole production was defined by sound, light and staging which all looked drug-fuelled yet still very slick and tight.

And as soon as Matt Smith came on wearing just his tighty whities I knew I was going to love the show from a more superficial point of view as well. Storyline wise I really can't add much more to "an investment banker turned serial killer" as that was pretty much all there was to it, but that's okay. The audience got a fascinating insight into Bateman's mind as he contemplated killing annoying co-workers, a random homeless person, prostitutes and even his own fiancee, and it became even more morbidly fascinating when he eventually turnsed his twisted fantasies into reality.


Despite the subject matter the show wasn't as gory or disturbing as one would expect. Most of the blood at the start was achieved with light effects, which was effective but did slightly feel like a cop-out; the audience is expecting a Patrick Bateman drenched in blood after all. Most of the more brutal scenes were quite tame in comparison to what they could've been, actually. Sure there were prostitutes and sex scenes, but with the actors still clothed and exaggerated simulated movements it all came across more comical than callous.

The fact that the serial killer randomly bursts into song at times perhaps also added to the fact that this show wasn't quite as vicious as expected. Matt Smith didn't come across as the strongest of singers, he can hold a tune but I found his voice quite monotone, yet his approach suited the production well and he was supported by a strong cast which was filled with West End veterans. Some classic 80s tunes such as, 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' by Tears for Fears and 'In the Air Tonight' by Phil Collins, were complimented well by excellent original songs, particularly 'Clean', which would make for a strong cast recording if they decide to make one (hint, hint).


Despite its disappointment in the gory department this is still an excellent piece of theatre well worth checking out. Unfortunately its limited run is already completely sold out and has been pretty much since the day tickets went on sale. However, if you're really determined, each performance day at 11am you can visit the Almeida Theatre to buy a day seat or, if there are any, a return. If the queues in the West End are anything to go by, you'd have to rock up quite a lot earlier than 11am to stand a chance of getting one of these hot tickets, but it can't hurt to try as American Psycho is definitely worth suffering through a few hours of cold and wet British weather in the morning.

Location: Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, London, N1 1TA.

Links: Official website - Facebook - Twitter

2 comments:

  1. It seems they've really made the staging and effects do a lot of work, which is no bad thing. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Sarah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Sarah. It was a really interesting production and I heard roumours it may transfer to the West End. If it does, I recommend you check it out given the chance :)

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