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Review: American Psycho at the Opera House

Review by Jessica Loeb

It is difficult to admit that a misogynistic, homophobic and narcissistic musical like American Psycho is, in fact, a killer show. But that’s exactly what it is - a killer show that is so perfectly deranged and disturbing you can’t seem to look away no matter how hard you try.

Thankfully, the musical does not intertwine with some of the recurring themes of the 1991 Bret Easton Ellis novel, such as rape and cannibalism. Phew! Instead, the musical focuses on a satirical world filled with greed, materialism and a status-hungry Patrick Bateman.

To describe the show in the simplest of ways, If Heathers and Sweeney Todd had a musical baby, American Psycho would be just that. Ben Gerrard as Patrick Bateman, portrays a deranged serial killer, who is mostly into ‘murders and executions,’ in such a slick way it is terrifyingly perfect. His ability to lure audiences in with his satirical commentary is so precise, it seemed only natural to laugh in the darkest of moments. Shamelessly, of course.

Ironically, the women of the show are the obvious highlights throughout the production. Shannon Dooley as Evelyn Williams could not have been more suited for the role with her perfectly over the top performance, whilst Erin Clare’s comedic timing, I'm sure, will continue to have audiences in stitches for every performance. Angelique Cassimatis, as Batemans secretary Jean, brought a different tone to the show, offering gentle vocals through ballads that helped bring a much needed balance to the mostly high energy and upbeat soundtrack throughout.

The production side of the musical brought about a team that was so blood-y good, I truly believe the show would not have been as captivating as it was without them. Alexander Berlage not only designed the lighting that so naturally transported you into this bloodbath of a story, but Berlage’s direction somehow made this 1991 novel relevant in today's world. Mason Browne’s choice of costumes too, brought imagery of status and boldness with a tinge of fun and originality.

I believe a shoutout is in order for his ingenious choice of placing shopping bags over the heads of the ensemble members playing mannequins.

The production as a whole looks incredible with Isabel Hudson’s set design. The revolving stage is so clever, it transports audiences into an ongoing cycle of uncertainty (or an ongoing cycle of dizziness in the words of the patron sitting in front of me), similarly alluding to Batemans murderous tendencies.

The never-ending mirrored revolve worked incredibly well with the crisp and sharp movements of the ensemble. Never have I ever seen such fluidity in choreography, especially on a stage like this. How the ensemble managed to appear and then in a split second, disappear (despite the context of the show, not literally disappear) so effortlessly is beyond me. Yvette Lee’s choreography is wizardry.

Throughout the show, Berlage uses his directorial skills to focus on Batemans whirlwind of a mind. Emphasis is placed on his tendencies to kill verbally, rather than the actual killing itself, visually. And that is why American Psycho is more than just someone on a murderous rampage. It is a distinctively dark and gruesome musical, undoubtedly different to the typical musical theatre show by a long shot. But that is why it is so eerily fascinating. It is truly a musical that pushes boundaries like no other, and whether that is seen as a positive or is seen as something that needs to be axed for good, well, i'll leave that up to you.

Image Credit: Daniel Boud


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