By Sandi Durell
If you’re seeing American Psycho expecting a visually specific turn on the bloody bloody movie starring Christian Bale (based on Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel), I must tell you, your expectations are high. The only real bloody bloody here is the star Benjamin Walker, who played the lead in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and who now scintillates as the label obsessed Patrick Bateman, an 80’s style 26-year-old smarty pants Wall Street upward climbing narcissist, who snorts cocaine and also happens to wield an axe or knife to rid himself of competitors and prostitutes as a serial killer. As for the bloody part, well, it’s sparsely sprinkled but not gory enough to compete with the movie.
However, what you get is Duncan Sheik’s (Spring Awakening) mostly notable synthesizer and drum machine music and lyrics, matched with familiar sounds of the 80s (i.e. Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World;” Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight;” and Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”), with book by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa, as this musical spoof plays to the cult psyche. We do get a kick out of a step back in time hearing about Manolo Blahnik shoes, Wayfarer sunglasses, Ralph Lauren underwear, Walkmans and a brag-worth *30-inch* (!) TV screen as Patrick and company are “Selling Out” from the get-go Ugh Oh, Ugh Oh. . . we’re not complaining cuz the cash keeps raining . . . you want it all . . .”
This slickly polished musical, led by director Rupert Goold, with robotic-style 80s choreography by Lynne Page, scenic design by Es Devlin (sparse scenery and cast flow in and out on twin moveable turntables) is accessorized with stunning projections by a masterful Finn Ross, and has highly creative costumes by Katrina Lindsay.
Cool cat Walker, living in a world of hedonism, parties and snorts at Tunnel and is waiting to bloody just about anyone in his path. However, although he talks the talk, he doesn’t walk the walk as a really scary psychotic. He is gorgeous in underwear or clothes but the chilling tension doesn’t flow.
Bateman’s insipid girlfriend, Evelyn (played to the hilt by Helene Yorke) and her coterie of like Barbie doll girlfriends, are well-deserving additions of splash and satire, including best friend Courtney (Morgan Weed) who happens to be having an affair with Patrick even as Evelyn continues to nudge for marriage and family.
Alice Ripley gets a turn at three distinct characters – Svetlana, the woman at the laundry who has to wash the blood out of Bateman’s shirts and suits; as Mrs. Bateman – Patrick’s boozy, sun-glass clad mother and lastly as Mrs. Wolfe, a real estate agent, and is always a joy to behold on any stage.
Patrick’s secretary Jean (an outstanding, golden-voiced Jennifer Damiano), barely escapes the axe as she falls for her boss.
Act II produces heavy-duty sex scenes as choreographed motions, but more realistically on the surrounding walls as neon-esque projections, along with the long awaited blood.
As for murders, well, aside from the homeless man in Act I, you can be certain to witness the offing of Patrick’s main Pierce & Pierce (that’s the Wall Street firm he and the boys work for) competitor Paul Owen (slick and slimy Drew Moerlein)– who turns up early on with a more intriguing business card in the highlight choreographed “Card” where the guys prove their athleticism.
It takes a while before the real stuff, and what audiences are waiting for, actually arrives, the build up long and somewhat repetitive, so when it’s finally delivered there’s a sense of anti-climatic.
But you’re sure to love the production values and creativity, along with some outstanding choreography and fine performances.
American Psycho runs 2 hrs. and 45 minutes, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45 Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue) www.AmericanPsychotheMusical.com
Photos: Jeremy Daniel