Review: American Psycho – A Musical Thriller, starring Matt Smith, at the Almeida theatre

At the end of the performance, somewhere between curtain call and the lights going up, the woman next to me turned to her companion and said “I could watch it all again right now”. And while I wasn’t quite up to it (this was my third play in as many nights, I was tired and in any case the cast wouldn’t be able to cope), I recognised the sentiment. Because, above else, the musical adaptation of American Psycho captures superbly the nihilistic but addictive exhilaration of the end of the last century. You want more of it at any cost.

The company. Photo Manuel Harlan

The company. Photo Manuel Harlan

After the book by Bret Easton Ellis and the film adaptation (that gave Christian Bale his adult film career), the idea of a musical based on the same material seemed bizarre. In  the hands of Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa (book), Duncan Sheik (music and lyrics) and director Rupert Goold, the story of a serial killer finds its natural home: Continue reading

Review: Othello at the National Theatre (starring Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear)

Rory Kinnear as Iago, Adrian Lester as Othello. Photo Johan Persson

Rory Kinnear as Iago, Adrian Lester as Othello. Photo Johan Persson

For pure heart-fluttering excitement,  the combination of Shakespeare and big name actors is hard to beat. Macbeth and James McAvoy earlier this year, Richard II and David Tennant from October, and somewhere in the middle Othello with Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear punctuate the theatrical year with spine tingling anticipation. Shakespeare’s plays breath with charismatic actors who can take reign of uncompromising characters, and Nic Hytner’s production, visceral and sharp, delivers in those terms.

Having said that, the first twenty minutes were not as promising. Pubs and alleyways and indistinct boardrooms, soldiers on leave in ill fitting civilian clothes (and ill at ease civilian mode),  the setting was too drab to set the imagination alight. Landing on Cyprus, the story started gathering momentum, but it was Iago manipulating Cassio in one almighty brawl that set the production on its proper course. Once the seeds of jealousy and doubt are planted in Othello’s mind, the story started hurling to the finish like a wild horse: beautiful and scary and dangerous. Continue reading