I entered the auditorium and took my seat – Row C, Seat 7, close to the stage and on the end. I still had no idea what to expect, but I was relieved about getting a ticket, and excited to see the show.
There was no safety curtain, so you could see the stage at all times – it was clean, crisp and white, with two sections of wall with a videocassette design of wallpaper on either side. There was a piece of set above the stage, rather than being able to see the lighting rig, which had a rectangular hole in the centre, angling from downstage to upstage. This hole was for lights to shine through, a concept that I liked. There were large circular designs on each side of the floor, which would soon become a design aspect that was important to the show.
Without any sign that the show was about to start, as far as I could tell, the audience went silent. Seconds later the music started and cast members walked down the aisles singing the first song, ‘Clean’, which would be reprised after the interval.
-Jonny Bailey was stood in front of me and I spent the song trying not to stare at him, because that’s generally weird. His voice was the one I heard most clearly and he sounded good.-
Patrick Bateman (Matt Smith) rose up from beneath the stage, wearing only underpants and standing in front of a ‘sun bed’. The sun bed turned around to show his clothes, which he proceeded to put on.
The circular design on the floor revealed its secret – they were rotating sections that were used for set changes, and as moments flashing by, with characters walking on them. I felt that they were used effectively, rather than being over used and pointless.
The following scenes introduced 5 more male characters. The props were 6 tables that could able to be uncoupled and moved around. The song presented the funny, cheesier side of the show. It was set in the 80s, so the songs are styled on, and taken from, that era. We also saw that the tables are light boxes, which added a new lighting dimension to the scenes they are used in.
We were introduced to more characters during a house party scene, which was followed by a club setting. One character made a dramatic exit, which could be interpreted as him either committing suicide or running away. This was followed by the first murder, in a back street, which proved Patrick’s psychotic tendencies and how harsh his demeanour is, when he isn’t hiding it.
Skipping through the plot, which included a few revelations, to the end of the first half, we saw the murder in the apartment scene (which I mentioned in my pre-show blog). It was performed suggestively, with red flashing over the whole stage before fading to a blackout – ending the first half.
The second half included a song the actions through this informed us of how easily Patrick could kill. We were also shown that Patrick, who had, himself, said he ‘does not feel’, is capable of mercy.
The show ended with a twist. I wrote earlier that I do not know the story, so I can only assume that the twist was not new to the musical.
The show lasted for 2 hours 40 minutes, including a 20-minute interval – I certainly felt the length of time, but that does not hinder the fact that I was gripped throughout.
I felt the show flowed well and the transitions between songs and talking were smooth.
The American accents were good, on the whole, however one cast member kept slipping into their own. If they had used their own accent during the whole show, then it would have seemed less peculiar.
The set, as I wrote about at the beginning of this post, was simple and sleek, and I liked it very much.
I thought the audience were receptive and respectful. They laughed at jokes that not everyone may have understood, or found funny, and clapped only when necessary (not after each song, as is the way with some musicals), which I liked as it did not take over the whole show.
Now for the topic that I seem not to have mentioned anywhere, at any time: Matt Smith. This production is his musical debut. Putting aside my previous appreciation for his work – which, in fact, is limited as I haven’t seen him in anything other than Doctor Who…I must rectify that. You read his section in the programme and he has half the amount of productions listed (including Stage, TV, and Film) than most of his fellow cast members. He has had no professional training in this part of the industry, which was noticeable, but it was obvious that he has been working hard. His singing voice was enjoyable and almost child-like in its nature, something that I found endearing. There was very little time through the show that he was not on stage, which is not surprising given that the show is about his character, and I felt he owned the stage appropriately. He did not overact his portrayal of Patrick, but played him with subtlety. One thing that I only noticed after I had left was that I had not associated his ‘Patrick’ with his ‘Doctor’ at all, this felt, to me, as though he had done his job effectively. I feel very comfortable with him as an actor, which was something I was not sure about prior to the show.
Overall, my experience of ‘American Psycho: A New Musical Thriller’ was a hugely positive one. Not only thanks to the theatre urging us to wait until the last second for returns, but also because the show blew me away. I left the theatre impressed and wanting to see it again and again.
I live in hope that the show transfers to the West End, preferably into a small theatre, as I really enjoyed the atmosphere that it created, and with the original cast. I would buy an Original Cast Recording in a heartbeat, but with less than a month until the show closes it does not seem likely.
*Fan girl time:
– Seeing Matt Smith in tight, white y-fronts was weird – he’s the Doctor, for goodness sake! However, he has really buffed up.
– I am glad that I could not quite see where the sex scenes were placed, as this was also quite weird – ‘he’s the Doctor, for goodness sake!’
– I really liked when Matt became Matt, which was after he had come back on stage for his own bow and gestured for the rest of the cast to come back on for their second. It was heart-warming.
– He didn’t come out to see fans afterwards, as he had 2 more double-show days to follow, but I didn’t care. I was happy enough that I had the chance to see him in the show.*
I have just found out that this musical was funded with a Kickstarter! Wow, that’s incredible!