Review Roundup: AMERICAN PSYCHO Opens at the Almeida- Updated!
Quentin Letts, The Daily Mail: Well, that's one way of making sure you're not typecast. Matt Smith, having just quit TV's Doctor Who, takes the lead in an exhibitionist London musical full of murderous sex and drugs...From the moment he enters -- rising on a sunbed in nothing more than a pair of Calvin Klein smalls -- it is impossible to miss him. He has stage presence and he certainly has the requisite six-pack. Add a Herman Munster brow, a gripping stillness, a weirdo aggression, and you have a convincing Wall Street maniac...But this production, directed by stunt-pulling Rupert Goold and slickly choreographed by Lynne Page, longs to be thought cool, even while criticising cool...Trouble is, this show's visual appeal is based on the same shallow aesthetic. The staging is typical Goold: back-projections, pop-up props, boobs, bottoms, stainless-steel chic...This is without doubt a theatrical event...But having made this splash, he now needs to escape the limiting influence of tyrant Goold, whose shows - so narrow in age range and metropolitanism - are strait-jacketed by bleak lovelessness.
Matt Wolf, TheArtsDesk.com: Among the multiple achievements of American Psycho, any one of which might be enough to make Rupert Goold's long-awaited Almeida season-opener the banner musical of a notably busy year for the form, a particular paradox deserves mention up front. Here's a piece steeped in material (the Bret Easton Ellis novel from 1991 and its film version nine years later) that fetishises surfaces and wallows in emptiness and that - a grand hurrah! - turns out itself to have a lot to say. I had feared in advance that the show might devolve into a blank celebration of late-80s blankness as per the book but not at all. By turns devastating and quick-witted, scintillating yet unexpectedly moving, the piece raises all sorts of hopes for Goold's embyronic Almeida tenure and -- far more importantly -- for renewing interest in a genre that has been running in place for far too long.
Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage: Content is so perfectly tailored to the design that Lynne Page's choreography - at one point Patrick and the traders are suspended horizontally by their work stations - is as much an organic statement of the show as the book and lyrics, just as the cast, individually and together, seem united in tone and purpose.
Michael Billington, The Guardian: Maybe the sleek staging undercuts some of the blackness of the original book. But the compensation lies in the heightening of the satire in a world in which "everyone has a beautiful body" and in which people are identified by fashion, fads and gizmos. Jointly presented by the Almeida, Headlong and Act 4 Entertainment, this is a show that confirms the mythic power of Easton Ellis's story and leaves us all dangerously entertained.
Mark Shenton, The Stage: Goold's vivacious production, with its witty pop video choreography from Lynne Page and a stunning white box design by Es Devlin that also becomes a screen for Finn Ross's astonishing, propulsive video to be projected on, has superb ensemble support from a cast that includes Jonathan Bailey, Hugh Skinner and Ben Aldridge as work colleagues, and Susannah Fielding, Gillian Kirkpatrick and Cassandra Compton as some of the women in his life. A future life is surely on the cards for it after its Islington run.
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: Although American Psycho is certainly bloody, where it needs to feel dangerous it sometimes seems a little too slick. Yet much of it is brilliant, and I would be surprised if this stylish shocker doesn't swiftly find its way into the West End.
Dominic Maxwell, The Times: When this musical version of Bret Easton Ellis's controversial 1991 bestseller was announced last year, it sounded like a bad joke. Instead Rupert Goold's dazzling production proves to be a darkly funny, outrageously entertaining gag that boasts a star turn from Matt Smith, proving he can be as alien as a well-groomed American serial killer as he is as a Time Lord. The violence is toned down and the carefully kitsch soundtrack will delight even those who think they don't like musicals.
Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter: But director Rupert Goold's glitzy new London stage adaptation almost glosses over the book's notoriously graphic carnage altogether, aiming instead for a darkly funny tone that plays at times like a light-headed, razzle-dazzle social satire. A little lacking in focus, it feels more like a series of splashy set-pieces than a serious literary adaptation. But it's nonetheless an impressive, immersive spectacle. Already sold out for the duration of its run through February, American Psycho seems virtually guaranteed a West End transfer. And for such an iconic New York story, of course, Broadway would be its natural home.