It’s been a few days since I went to see the UK premiere of the David Bowie musical LAZARUS at the newly built venue on the grounds of the Kings Cross Theatre. I’ve been mulling it over in my mind, trying to put the pieces together and figure out what exactly I watched. I’m still not much clearer about it but it was bloody brilliant nonetheless. Much like the recent show DOCTOR FAUSTUS, I found that only when I let my mind free to enjoy the nonsensical nature of the show did I finally understand its brilliance. Much like Bowie’s work itself, it’s experimental, off the wall and takes brilliance to another level.
Based on the 1967 film The Man Who Fell To Earth, starring David Bowie, LAZARUS was one of his final works and his last public appearance before his death was at press night for the show Off-Broadway. It’s a jukebox musical of David Bowie’s classic back catalogue featuring the hit songs ‘Heros’, ‘Changes’, The Man Who Sold The World’, ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘Sound and Vision’ amongst many others.
With an abstract show like LAZARUS, everything that doesn’t make sense, can just be put down to a lack of understanding. I’m sure every moment of the show was carefully constructed and if there were a directors summary of the musical, I am sure there would be a million hidden meanings (for instance I thought the fridge being used as a dustbin for empty plates and bottle tops was a sloppy direction choice instead of having a bin in the room, however the bizarre nature of the show makes me think there was probably an obscure meaning to why that was done).
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Transferring with the show from the New York production is Michael C. Hall as Thomas Jerome Newton who gives an eerily alien-esq performance and sounds vocally much like Bowie himself. Sophia Anne Caruso plays Newton’s muse, a ghost like creature who has been sent to help guide him along his quest on earth to find his way home. Sophia was the stand out performer for me in this show with big dreamy eyes and gorgeous vocals on Life On Mars. Michael Esper also transferred from the American production in the role of Valentine.
Joining the cast of the London production are the beautiful Amy Lennox (recently seen as Lauren in Kinky Boots) as Newton’s assistant, Elly and the wonderful Jamie Muscato as Ben. Jamie is a great actor and it would have been nice to see him in a slightly more prominent role in this show.
LAZARUS takes artistic risks to the next level but they pay off. It is very much a show for Bowie fans and wouldn’t fit in a mainstream market but there are plenty of fans of his work out there who will enjoy this piece (the queue for the merchandise stand proved the audience wanted to scoop up as much memorabilia as possible for their collections).
I didn’t quite ‘get it’ but it made me want to go back and see it again as it was fascinating to watch and I want to peel back the layers and get inside the mind of this musical. A must for Bowie fans and anyone who likes more off the wall theatre shows.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Johan Persson
LAZARUS plays at the Kings Cross Theatre until 22 January 2017. Get tickets
INTERVIEW: Amy Lennox has Tea With Wilma chatting about David Bowie and the new musical LAZARUS