Review: David Bowie's LAZARUS At Göta Lejon

First time in Sweden

By: Feb. 15, 2024
Review: David Bowie's LAZARUS At Göta Lejon
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This is Bowie's last work and he managed to see the premiere in 2015 before he passed away and now it is being staged for the first time in Sweden. A set that is not like any other musical and the question is whether musical is the right term. Here, the same cinematic approach has been used as in Lille Eyolf at Dramaten and Gengångere at Stadsteatern, where acting is mixed with filmed sequences, but here the cinematic has gained the upper hand, for better or for worse. As the audience enters the hall, what is happening behind the scenes is shown on a full screen. When the time comes, Linus Wahlgren, who plays the immortal alien Newton, is followed by a cameraman onto the stage and disappears into the apartment built in the middle of the stage. After that, there is just over an hour of live filmed theater that is shown on the screen before the screen becomes more and more transparent and you once again see the actors on stage. The approach of live close-ups that are projected while seeing the actors live is effective and neat in the closing scenes. Here it lights up and the presence increases and culminates in the penultimate number when Linus Wahlgren powerfully performs "When I Met You" at the same time as the apartment spins and he balances around in it and film sequences are projected on the transparent film screen. It is only in the show's very last number, Heros, a stripped-down and fine-tuned version, that the filming stops completely.

Despite the nice cinematography and all the close-ups, the bareness of the filmed sequences is at the expense of the feeling of being in the theater. The actors work with the camera and not with the audience. The cinema feeling that sometimes turns into a feeling of delicious music videos lingers and affects the overall impression. The footage is strong, but it doesn't feel fully here and now.

However, the acting is incredibly good and I would very much like to see it completely without a screen, or in any case much more of stage presence and projection mixed because there it is skillfully and visually nicely packaged.

Linus Wahlgren is absolutely brilliant in his interpretation of Newton and without a doubt this is one of his best efforts. In the madness, despair and longing for death, he is extremely present and emotionally charged without overplaying and vocally he has probably not been better. Bowie's songs are cut and cut for him. Tove Stykre is fragile and several times she shows that she can deliver comic lines and make the audience laugh along. S J Berger creates a sense of discomfort as soon as he is on stage and he has the right Bowie feel in all the songs he sings. Everyone in the ensemble delivers at a high level.

In total, there are seventeen songs from Bowie's solid song treasure that are included, for example. Lazarus, Life on Mars, Absolut beginners, This is not America and Changes so those who like Bowie will find some goodies here.

It's the third time I've seen Lazarus and from the first audience rehearsal on February 10, they've got a better feel with the redesigned opening number. But it is a very special performance with the cinematic artistic approach and storytelling technique. A performance that fascinates.

If you like musicals and/or Bowie, there is no doubt that you should see it to experience it and see what you think for yourself. It may not be the best you've seen, but a performance that sticks and doesn't let go of whoever has seen it. Watch it with an open mind!

Photo Credit: Mats Bäcker