Review Roundup: AMERICAN PSYCHO Opens at the Almeida- Updated!
Rupert Goold, The Almeida Theatre's Artistic Director, directs the World Premiere of American Psycho, a new musical thriller with book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis. It opens tonight, December 12 and runs through January 25, 2014.
Matt Smith takes the part of Patrick Bateman, alongside an ensemble cast which includes 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.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Spencer, The Telegraph: You could sense the audience lapping up this empty mixture of ironic style and sudden moments of violence, and there is no doubt that Rupert Goold's production is smart and sharp. But like the novel on which it is based, it is also glib, heartless and pretentious...I was also disappointed by Matt Smith's psycho...while Smith's Dr Who struck me as tiresomely zany, here he seems boringly blank, and never comes close to catching the characters mental disintegration, powerfully described in the novel and brilliantly caught by Bale in the film. His singing voice is flat and expressionless too.
David Benedict, Variety: Since soullessness is the essence of Patrick Bateman, the anti-hero of Bret Easton Ellis's notoriously savage fantasia on 80s greed "American Psycho," you could argue that an all-style and no substance musical version might possibly be appropriate. And helmer Rupert Goold and his design team certainly capture the high veneer 80s style that Bateman so worships. But beneath the highly polished surface there's little drama or, crucially, danger. In a serial-killer thriller, that's not just a problem, it's an indictment.
Simon Edge, Express: Rupert Goold's production authentically captures the ice-cold detachment of Ellis's narrative, as do Es Devlin's sleek sets...Robotic choreography to a score that includes Bateman's favourite tracks from the book...completes the picture of yuppie soullessness. I've no objection to serial killing as a subject for musical theatre - it worked wonders for Stephen Sondheim with Sweeney Todd. While the new tunes are forgettable and rhyming "ironic" with "Manolo Blahnik" is predictable, the stylised nature of the narrative lends itself to musical theatre form...Matt Smith, who I've always thought was a better actor on stage than he was in Doctor Who, does a fine job in the lead role. The fact that he doesn't have the most polished singing voice does his performance no harm...But the work itself is as boring as its lists of brand names to the extent that it's a relief when the killing starts, and the risibly indulgent ending - a bolt-on twist that makes little sense - betrays the inadequacy of the writing.
Paul Taylor, The Independent: [Smith's] compelling Patrick is more opaque and much less manic than Christian Bale in Mary Harron's excellent movie. He wears his beauty as a mask; the lack of colour in his singing voice becomes part of Bateman's blankness...Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 novel in which capitalist extremism is satirised through a psychopathic serial-killing Wall Street banker seems an improbable subject for a tuner. But this witty, almost terminally knowing show tackles that difficulty with deadpan cheek...Though it calls itself "a musical thriller", the show is short on visceral tension...The new songs suggest that numb conformist banality does not offer satire an extensive tonal palette...But the all-singing-and-dancing company perform the piece with terrific attack and the second half manages to take you into Patrick's panicking emptiness without a hint of sentimentality or sanitisation.
Steve Myall, The Mirror: From the moment Matt Smith rises from a tanning bed stripped to his $60 Ralph Lauren underwear this show is a stylish feast...And this is what the show is great at - turning a very visual book to a slick choreographed representation of 1980s excess told through the eyes of mass murderer in New York...Set to a soundtrack of classic 80s music - think Phil Collins and Huey Lewis and the News - but with some excellent original new songs, Clean being one of the standouts, it sounds and looks beautiful...Smith hasn't the traditional musical theatre voice but that adds to his telling of a man striving for meaning to his life above and beyond superficial pleasures during a performance which he's barely off stage for a moment. As the vain mass murderer of Manhattan - a role light years from Doctor Who - Smith kills it.