Certainly not the first musical centred on a psychotic serial killer – Sweeney Todd immediately comes to mind, American Psycho – The Musical is based on a controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis, and subsequent movie of the same name.
A chillingly wicked satire, the musical depicts the life and milieu of successful, self-absorbed, 26 year-old New York investment banker, Patrick Bateman. Bateman is fastidious about his grooming and appearance, and addicted to designer labels, electronic gadgetry and cocaine. He also develops a fascination for gruesomely disposing of anyone who stands in his way to the top.
It says much for the skills and talents of Director, Alexander Berlage, his creative team and cast, that they have been able to create from such an unlikely and unpleasant material this brilliant production that is not only, slick, sophisticated and entertaining, but possibly thought-provoking as a sobering comment on contemporary corporate culture.
Ben Gerrard is positively mesmerising in the central role as Patrick Bateman. Delivering his lines in a slightly robotic monotone, sporting a perfectly ripped body and flawless suntan he prowls the corridors of Yvette Lee’s constantly revolving mirrored setting, issuing orders and insults while he sizes up his opposition. How could he not be awarded the prized Fisher account?
Shannon Dooley and Erin Clare capture the appropriate New York glamour and style with excellent comedic performances as Bateman’s vicious girlfriend-from-hell, Evelyn and her vacuous bestie, Courtney.
Mason Browne’s spot-on costume design, and the mirrored surfaces of Isabel Hudson’s clever setting, together with Yvette Lee’s funky choreography, and Andrew Worboys driving, unsettling electronic score, allow the very busy Amy Hack, Kristina McNamara, Angelique Cassimatis, Daniel Raso, Liam Nunan, Mark Hill, Tom Sharah and Jason Winston to create with flair and pizzaz, a bewildering array of well-observed work colleagues, drug addled party goers, prostitutes and dead beats who inhabit the world of Patrick Bateman.
No Dorothy, it’s not Oklahoma, nor is it Les Miserables to which it makes several cheeky references. But for those with a taste for something more acerbic, it is a brilliantly conceived and performed production of a musical based on an unpleasant subject with repellent characters and an undistinguished score which given a production as good as this, provides a cracking good night of theatre.
American Psycho – The Musical
Playhouse – Canberra Theatre Centre, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Saturday 3 July
Season: 30 June – 3 July 2021 (ended)
Image: Ben Gerrard stars as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho – The Musical – photo by Clare Hawley
Review: Bill Stephens OAM