You would think playing a murderous American yuppie with a rock-hard torso and a feather-soft grip on reality would be just the ticket for banishing the memory of loveable teatime alien The Doctor. But Matt Smith leaves surprisingly little impression as psychopathic stockbroker Patrick Bateman in this musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s social satire ‘American Psycho’. And that is the brilliance of his performance.
Bateman is a hollow man, an identikit Wall Street hotshot, frequently mistaken for other Wall Street hotshots, who judges himself by the fractional material differences between him and his Wall Street hotshot peers. Bateman is on stage almost constantly in Rupert Goold’s production, yet Smith plays him as a strange void.
His monotone voice, impassive features and perfectly toned physique are a constant deadpan, and he sings with the flat tones of the New Romantics, whose soaring electro-pop Duncan Sheik’s score apes. Smith is constantly in the foreground, but though his natural charisma draws us in, the eye slides off him. We see why Bateman is losing his marbles: his perfect Manhattan life is a prison, his only escape is to (apparently) start butchering people.
‘American Psycho’ is enormous fun. Sheik’s songs vary in hummability, but they’re generally hilarious, characters with no soul singing trashy, narcissistic pop songs about their empty inner lives – a mischievous contrast to the faux profundity most musicals peddle (not least ‘Les Mis’, cheekily parodied here). Goold and set designer Es Devlin keep things fast paced and acid bright, their dazzlingly sterile Manhattan conjured by day-glo projections and props that cheekily pop out of the floor.
Above all, though, Goold, Sheik and scriptwriter Robert Aguirre-Sacasa have retooled ‘American Psycho’ as a comedy for our time. The violence is dialled right down compared to the book and even the film, and it’s made playfully apparent that after two decades of capitalist excess, we are all Patrick Bateman now. From his tedious opinions on music to his obsession with hipster food fads, moisturising and labels, he’s just a blog away from being, well, you, probably.
It’s a painful point, well made, but in many ways it’s an obvious point, and perhaps the biggest weakness of ‘American Psycho’ is that it pretty much shows its entire hand within the first half hour. For the next two hours it’s just a question of holding on for the ride – but what a deliciously mad rollercoaster this is.
By Andrzej Lukowski
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Was lucky enough to get tickets for this just after Christmas and took my teenage daughter. We loved it, it was crass, humourous and extremely stylish. Some scenes include Matt Smith in his underpants which is no bad thing as he has been working out. He is the eighties icon, truly his voice suits that style of music and his american accent is wonderful. If you get a chance to go see this show, grab it. So worth it.
As a big fan of both the book and film I should probably have stayed away. It's rare that people that enjoyed one medium of a piece to enjoy the transition to another, but to enjoy a second change in format..I was probably hoping for too much. Unfortunately, my fears were realised. Whilst this musical is entertaining I can't say that it really portrays the required tone that the story should be told in. On Matt Smith's performance: I've never seen Doctor Who (atleast since it was rebooted 10 odd years ago) so I didn't really have any pre conceived notions of what he would bring to the role. The route that he's gone down is to try and be as straight laced and monotone as possible. Whilst I can see why this has been done, to try and show Patrick as a vacuous entity I don't think it really works. The scary/chilling thing about Patrick the character was that he had the front of a normal person who would then switch to a maniac making you wonder about other people you know, this is not really achieved by acting like a robot. The rest of the cast, in particular the dancers are very good, and the singing was also to be aplauded particularly on the 80's classics which are incorporated well into the story. Overall this is an interesting premise that just seems to have rubbed me up the wrong way by becoming too camp and straying too much from the source. I'm sure it'll be a hit, but probably not for Easton Ellis purists.
This is an amazing show, with a great cast and a wonderfully inventive staging. Matt Smith does a great job with a part that makes him really look like an alien, much more than his Doctor Who persona. I was blown away!
I absolutely loved this. Matt Smith is magnificent, the book is hysterical laugh-out-loud, the score is the perfect mix of neo-goth electro and pop and the direction by Rupert Goold keeps clarity and action to the fore, temperamental revolves aside. I wished I had nabbed more tickets for later in the now sold-out run, but I’ll satisfy myself with memories of Smith and the rest of the faultless cast in the Tunnel Club bad-eighties dancing to the Christmas number one from 32 years ago. Full review here http://www.frontrowdress.com/2013/12/american-psycho-almeida-theatre.html
hallo - I cannot for the life of me get your online booking system to work. I'd like 4 tickets (me OAP and disabled, my wife who is 'normal', my two sons, schoolboy and student) for Ghosts on the evening of 15th October. sincerely David Spence