Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
Archived

American Psycho

"all that glistens is all that matters"

Audrey review: Little of the blood and chilling violence of the film, but this production’s sharp edges and slashing wit leave a lasting impression.

Text size
Text size
Add to favourites

American Psycho

Date: 17 Mar 2021

Director Alexander Berlage puts a high polish on just about everything he makes for a theatre.

So who better to helm the story of investment banker Patrick Bateman, a man for whom the reflected image is everything and for whom all that glistens is all that matters?

Adapted by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Duncan Sheik, you may be relieved to hear that this musical version displays little of the squirm-inducing edge of Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel. Absent also is the goriness that made Mary Harron’s (2000) film such a queasy experience.

What this American Psycho offers instead is a vividly entertaining satirical portrait of the Greed is Good era and of a man thrill-seeking the most visceral forms of reality in a world drained of meaning.

Berlage and designer Isabel Hudson stage American Psycho on a mirror-coated revolve, which takes up most of the available space and creates the impression that Bateman (played by Ben Gerrard) is marching through an endless loop of shop window displays.

His world is a ceaseless merry-go-round of power lunches, aerobics classes, cocaine binges and weekends in the Hamptons. Extreme violence is the only way he can, so to speak, get off.

Gerrard is ideally cast as Bateman and not just for his chiselled body, unwrinkled face and gleaming smile. His way of draining Bateman’s eyes of feeling and his precisely calibrated descent into narrative unreliability are essential to the success of the production.

Aguirre-Sacasa asks us to sympathise with Bateman to an extent (a victim of late capitalism, no less) and to Gerrard’s credit, we almost do.

Blake Appelqvist is wickedly funny as Bateman’s bete noire Paul Owen, a man who had everything Bateman desires. A sequence devoted to the display of his new business card is priceless.

Female roles are two-dimensional but Shannon Dooley (Batemen’s society belle fiancé Evelyn), Erin Clare (casual lover Courtney) and Loren Hunter (smitten PA Jean) perform strongly. Eric James Gravolin, Julian Kuo, Liam Nunan and Daniel Raso serve capably as the story’s cadre of interchangeable Wall Street jocks. Nunan’s name role – that of the closeted, Bateman-obsessed Luis – is a clumsy one but he performs it sharply.

Berlage (with associate director Danielle Maas, choreographer Yvette Lee and costume designer Mason Browne) has almost every revolution of the set reveal something surprising, funny or unsettling. Stillness, when it comes, has considerable impact.

The production’s sound design (Nick Walker) is in tune with the hard, bright surfaces of the design. Musical director Andrew Worboys’ arrangements of Sheik’s urbane electro-pop originals (think Pet Shop Boys) and 80s chart hits including Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Don’t You Want Me and In the Air Tonight make the room throb. The mix is full and nightclub loud at times.

American Psycho’s critique of consumerism and commodification might seem a bit old hat in this era of Internet-enabled sociopaths but this production’s sharp edges and slashing wit still leave a lasting impression.

This review of American Psycho’s first season was first published in 2019.

Content
Once
Add to favourites
ArchivedEternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst, Sydney 4 Jun - 6 Aug 2021

Once

Audrey review: Once is a rare bird of a musical, one that wears its heart entirely on its sleeve.

Cry-Baby
Add to favourites
MusicalDrama Theatre, Sydney Opera House 22 Jul - 15 Aug 2021

Cry-Baby

Audrey review: A gleaming hot rod of a show. Once the cast stomp on the gas pedal all you can do is buckle up and enjoy the ride.

The Woman in Black
Add to favourites
ArchivedEnsemble Theatre, Kirrbilli, Sydney 11 Jun - 24 Jul 2021

The Woman in Black

Audrey review: This Gothic yarn is a twofold celebration: first, of the healing power of storytelling; second of the magic of rough theatre.

See More

More to see

View All
A Hundred Words for Snow
Add to favourites
ArchivedFlight Path Theatre, Marrickville, Sydney 6 - 18 Jul 2021

A Hundred Words for Snow

A Hundred Words for Snow is about being an explorer in a melting world. It's a coming-of-age story. With polar bears.

INTACT
Add to favourites
ArchivedWoodburn Creatives, Redfern, Sydney 26 May - 27 Jun 2021

INTACT

Following a soldier upon his return from war, INTACT asks us to interrogate the ways we reinvent ourselves as we adapt to extreme challenges.

Grand Horizons
Add to favourites
ArchivedRoslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney 7 Jun - 3 Jul 2021

Grand Horizons

A humorous and moving look at romance and intergenerational divides in the era of self-expression, alternative family models and... sexting.

Destroy, She Said
Add to favourites
TheatreDownstairs Theatre, Belvoir, Surry Hills, Sydney 10 - 22 Aug 2021

Destroy, She Said

After the miscarriage of her second child, Elisabeth is sent to a provincial hotel to convalesce. But she is being watched.

Top