Time Out says
The late David Bowie's maddening and beautiful musical sequel to 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'
A wealthy recluse, dying but somehow not dead, sits atop his New York tower, hallucinating his past and the music of David Bowie.
If it was difficult to see where Thomas Jerome Newton, the stranded alien protagonist of the 1976 film ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ ended, and Bowie – who played him – began, then that goes double for its musical sequel, ‘Lazarus’.
Co-written by Enda Walsh and Bowie, ‘Lazarus’ catches up with Newton (Michael C Hall) in the present day, as he morosely drinks gin in his featureless apartment. There is little actual plot, but a sense of events finally comes to a head, as Newton’s hope and despair become manifested as ingénue the Girl (Sophia Anne Caruso) and the psychotic Valentine (Michael Esper). Meanwhile his new PA, Elly (Amy Lennox), finds her personality is being overwritten by that of Thomas’s lost love, Mary-Lou.
Ivo van Hove’s claustrophobic production is more like a mood than a story, a homage to Nicholas Roeg’s hallucinatory film, but also, perhaps, a window into the near-decade of seclusion that followed Bowie’s withdrawal from public life in 2004.
Does this make it a good musical? I dunno: it’s weirdly caught between aggressive artiness and a certain triteness. If you haven’t seen – and liked – the film, you’ll quite possibly be totally at sea here. If you do love its brooding vibes, you may cringe at a couple of moments where its icy aloofness is punctured by overly sincere, ‘X Factor’-style performances of a couple of numbers.
However, I can’t help but feel it shouldn’t be viewed as just a musical. Even if he’d lived, Bowie had apparently sworn off further live shows, and I would guess ‘Lazarus’ was part-conceived as a substitute. Almost none of the songs – even the four moody new ones – feel integral to the plot, and could probably be swapped for something else without really changing the feel of the show. But as a concert setlist it makes perfect sense. Played by a live band and directed by a man famous for his love of rock music, it’s roughly 50/50 ‘new’ material (drawing partly on 2013 comeback album ‘The Next Day’) and classics that fit the elegiac mood (‘Life on Mars?’, ‘Absolute Beginners’, stripped down takes on ‘Changes’ and ‘”Heroes”’).
Unlike Bowie’s towering final album ‘Blackstar’, ‘Lazarus’ is a flawed work. But I can’t help but love it, in the same way I love ‘Outside’ and ‘Reality’ and all those other flawed latter-day Bowie records. In no small part that’s down to Hall, magnificently other as the depressed immortal, and with a powerful vibrato that sounds uncannily like Bowie’s. But more than that, and casting objectivity to the wind, I feel moved by the very existence of ‘Lazarus’, which feels like Bowie’s final tour, testament and eccentric project all wrapped into one. It is not a valedictory romp through his greatest hits, but something rarer, more interesting and more frustrating: a last transmission from a dying star.
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Pure pretentious drivel. Incredibly boring drivel at that, seemingly interminable. And in a theatre with the worst sight lines in London with anything more than halfway back feeling miles from the "stage". Do yourself a favour and put on some Bowie albums at home instead.
Fantastic visuals and concept design. Top acting. A first-class band and some great 3D pop video moments (that's not a criticism!). But... there's something missing in the play.
The Nicolas Roeg film which prompted it, was elliptical - but it also had a solid script and I'm not convinced that Lazarus does. Non-linear, yep. Ambiguous, yep. But there's something missing.
Still, full marks for innovation! And I'll probably go again ahahaha!
I had great hopes for this but was disappointed. No character had any charm or story. Songs were shoe horned into place with flash backs, flash forwards and I swear a flash sideways. I found this pretentious and trying too hard to be obscure and arty, to going from stupor inducing slowness progressing to migraine inducing noise and flashing lights. Not an enjoyable experience.
Stunning, heartbreaking and chaotic. It's certainly not for the faint hearted, and it you're just not the sort of person who enjoys art or arty films it probably won't be for you.
I liked the music, I liked the singing too... but I didn't like the choppiness of the story and I guess the side-stories. It was all a bit muddled, dark and light and a bit sad. Luckily not all the songs were from Bowie's final album and some old favourites were left in so that was worth it in itself in the end.
I had my eye on this production as soon as it was announced. I’m a fan of musicals myself but my partner isn’t keen… he was convinced to go with me though based on the Bowie connection. Despite going on Bonfire night (with every firework in London being heard from inside the shipping container that is the stage) and sitting at the very back close to a heating machine (which appeared to be the only one actually on and was making quite a racket).. I really enjoyed myself. It’s not that easy to follow (partner : “I’ve no idea what is going on”) but if you go along with it you’ll be rewarded. If anything hearing Michael C Hall singing Lazarus is worth the ticket price alone.
I saw this on its second night and thought it was fantastic. Great performances, stunning music and real visual flair in how it was staged. It also had one of the most moving and poignant endings I've encountered at the theatre. I too could see myself going to see it again!