American Psycho – The Musical A review by Fred Stal
Now @ The Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre 236 West 45th Street, New York, New York
A bloodbath musical, who would have thought it? While I did expect more blood and murder, like in the original Bret Easton Ellis book that this production is based on, American Psycho – The Musical, directed by Rupert Goold, did stay true to the essence of the story. With original songs as well as incorporating familiar 80’s pastime favorites like the New Order hit “True Faith” and “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” by Tears for Fears, the experience brought us back to New York City circa 1989. The shallow dialogue, and emphasis on Estee Lauder moisturizers, fashion, and overall posh urban living, was consistent throughout.
Patrick Bateman (Benjamin Walker) is not your typical main character, a deeply self-loathing, very successful, psychopathic murderer. It seems from the outside he has it all: looks, money, an attractive girlfriend, a secretary who absolutely adores him, trips to the Hamptons; the works. Yet his fixation on what is missing only deepens the inner void more. For much of the time during the story, he is obsessed with Paul Owen (Drew Moerlein) who managed to get the prestigious Fisher Account, and even his business cards seem to be superior to Bateman’s. The envy enrages Patrick, and needless to say he takes “care” of the problem. A more difficult scene included that of the killing of an innocent homeless man, where Bateman asks him “why don’t you get a job”. There is a disgust in his tone, a lack of any compassion or remorse. The implication, however exaggerated, is that there are people like this in our society.
Patrick’s girlfriend Evelyn Williams is played by Helene York, who does a spectacular job playing his equally materialistic counterpart. However, she surely does not share his explosively violent tendencies. Patrick’s secretary Jean gives us a much needed air of innocence and grace in this empty, cruel, sad world of Bateman. Jennifer Damiano is nothing short of stunning in this performance. Somehow she sees the good in Bateman. If there was even a moment, hypothetically, where the audience member sympathized with our main character it was because of her.
The set design started with a pristine New York City apartment, and fluidly transitioned into clubs, taxi rides, park bench conversations, and more. Scenic design was provided by Es Devlin whose credits include working with musicians such as Beyonce, Adele, U2, and Jay-Z. Devlin also worked on theatrical productions like the classic Shakespearean – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more. Costume designer Katrina Lindsay has worked in both film and on Broadway, although there are many scenes with little clothes at all (good job personal trainers, for there were some very hard bodies on this set). As well, the very well executed choreography was the work of Lynne Page who also has been involved in theatrical productions like Funny Girl, La Cage aux Folles, A Little Night of Music, and more.
As this musical ends, the imagery of blood on the walls, and signs that read : ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE, parallel the increasing break from reality that Patrick Bateman is having. He even tried to get caught in the end, which is counterintuitive for any murderer. His sense of urgency, and need to escape from his life are evident. Even in the beginning of the story, he would frantically remark that he needed to “return some videotapes”. With deprecating humor, and a glaring personable element provided by the actors, this production did feel very intimate and entrancing. Surprisingly comical, brilliant and maddening , American Psycho The Musical delivers a unique theater experience.