Lazarus has opened at the new purpose built Kings Cross Theatre, and is selling out nightly the 900 seat capacity, as David Bowie fans rush to see the final work of the musical legend. Written by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, and directed by Ivo van Hove, sadly, the stage isn’t the only thing that’s beige in this production.
Written as the sequel to ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’, by Walter Tevis; Bowie starred in the movie version, the script of Lazarus just seems too far removed from the original story to have any resonance and is often baffling and confusing.
‘Thomas Jerome Newton’, confined to his New York apartment and spending his time watching television and drinking gin, conjures a world of his own where various characters flit in and out. It’s impossible to know what is real and what is imagined and I found myself failing to connect with any of the characters.
While the storyline of Lazarus leaves a lot to be desired, there are a number of redeeming features. The music, is of course the selling point here, featuring a host of hits from Bowies back catalogue plus three new songs. The acoustics in the theatre mean that the live tracks literally reverberate through your body. But there just seems to be something missing, by the time we hear the stripped back version of ‘Heroes’ you are just aching for the music to open up and let go.
The set is beige, but is frequently brought to life through clever video mapped projections that are interesting to watch and provide a good backdrop to the music. Michael C Hall, as ‘Thomas Jerome Newton’, is undeniably exceptional, in a demanding role he more than delivers and, at times, sounds hauntingly like Bowie himself.
Sophia Anne Caruso is equally strong, as the ‘Girl’, who exists only in Newtons mind. Jamie Muscato, thankfully, has the skill (and voice) to give his character, ‘Ben’, the depth that the script failed to.
Hard-core David Bowie fans will delight at the subtle references and nods to Bowies work in Lazarus, and will enjoy the skilfully performed live versions of the music. The cast do a brilliant job with the material they’ve been given, ultimately though, it’s the script that lets it down. That said, I’m confident Lazarus will be seen by many as a tribute piece to Bowie and will enjoy a successful run.