BWW Reviews: AMERICAN PSYCHO, Almeida, December 12 2013
New musical thriller American Psycho has a killer cast, choreography is bloody excellent, and every line is executed brilliantly. It is totally and utterly brutal, yet artistically beautiful.
This adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' controversial 1991 novel had a smashing first night at London's Almeida Theatre, with a book by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa and music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik, and translating neatly into the field of musical theatre, challenging many critics' reservations of the bizarre hybrid - and including several knowing intertextual nods to the genre.
Twenty-six year old obsessive compulsive psychopath Patrick Bateman is played by BAFTA-nominated Doctor Who star Matt Smith.
He steps out of the TARDIS and into the tanning booth, puts down the sonic screwdriver and picks up the chainsaw (and a knife, a gun, an axe, and a nail gun) as the narcissistic serial killer. Based in 1980s Manhattan, this crazed investment banker is the embodiment of late capitalism and Wall Street greed.
Costume design by Katrina Lindsa had the cast looking suitably sleek, smooth and sharp 1980s style. Every aspect of mise en scène captures the zeitgeist; with the help of Huey Lewis, Phil Collins and other 80s classics, all delivered with a dose of satire, and completed with great original songs that were clear and hard hitting. It seemed that society has changed very little, still suffering from vanity, excess and elitism.
Es Devlin and Jon Clark are to be commended for their fantastic set design and lighting. A boxlike void is lit by a bright blinding whiteness resembling the eerie luminosity of adental surgery. A vibrant montage of colours and images are projected onto the walls toprovide a seamless transition from scene to scene. The enchanting use of techno sound and lighting creates a hallucinatory experience, conjuring up a fantasy of high finance and high life alongside a self-induced high, transporting you to a 1980s rave.
Unlike other musicals, the emphasis is not on the killer voice of the lead role. Smith has a non-traditional sound; but this is not a criticism, it is solid within the boundaries of his character.
The company 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. The entire cast's delivery of brutal honesty, sharp wit and crudity gave every comment the effect of a punch line. They killed it!