The Bloody, Retro Horror of American Psycho Is Also Very 2016

The Broadway version of the best-seller features blood, intestines, satirical song-and-dance, and all the maximalist style of an era of excess.”>

For much of his time on stage, with or without ax, the strapping performer Benjamin Walkerwho plays the deranged Wall Street investment banker Patrick Bateman in the Broadway musical version of American Psycho

All of this is on a much bigger, Broadway scale than the plays first gestation at Londons non-West End Almeida Theatre in 2013. Its director, Rupert Goold, hopes the stage version offers even more room for ambiguity in the pieces characters plot, message, and morality.

On Broadway, American Psycho lands on stage in 2016, with the nostalgia industry that so bloomed at the time of its publicationfor the 1960 s, as in indicates like The Wonder Yearsnow fully caught up with the 1980 s and 1990 s itself.

Today, pop culture nostalgia is such fast food, our looking back so immediate, even the aughts have been preserved in affectionate aspic.

Yet American Psychohowever you take it, horror story or 80 s satire or bothdoesnt do for the 1980 s what a sitcom does. It doesnt make it safe, it builds it toxic. It invites us to laugh at its excess, its shoulder pads, its maximalism, but it alsothrough the walking, distorted prism that is Batemanalso invites us to look at its shallowness, its socially and culturally devaluing backwash.

The dance sequences may appear and sound brashly Broadway, but listen to the lyrics about venality and bloodlust: its brilliantly perverse toe tapping. Just as in the fiction, Bateman celebrates, and recoils from balefully, the material excess around him.

The theater piece opens, as the movie did, with Bateman, in his tighty whites, showing us his morning workout and make-up routinewhich, as he removes the facial mask he employs, also introduces us to the idea that his identity may not be as fixed as his impressive body builds it seem. Just as in the fiction and movie, we are not fully sure what has been real and who has been real at the final curtain.

The book talks about his body, the relationship between the social and the corporeal, says Goold. When I looked at Ben I supposed, He really looks like Superman. He has this Clark Kent quality when hes at work. I get very interested in the anti-hero version of Superman, the alter ego: an American destroyer by night, rather than savior.

Indeed, we insure Bateman at work, was intended to assert his dominance, but this assertion is, we speedily realise, rooted in the insecurity that he is not as powerful as Paul Owen, whom we insure him in thrall to as much as “the mens” around Bateman are around him.

On stage, even more than in the book, Batemanwhoever and whatever he isisnt simply a cipher for everything that is damning about the 1980 s, but also seems to be a bloody cipher of conflicted masculinity too. Bateman violently rejects a homosexual characters advances: there is some suggestion he too, despite the compulsive heterosexuality played out on stage, is at best sexually confused and ambivalent.

His relationship with girlfriend Evelyn is rooted securely in material gain, rather than romance. The challenge he faces with the only genuinely good character on stage, his secretary( played by Jennifer Damiano) who is secretly in love with him, is whether he will spare their own lives, rather than bed her.

The piece is in three modes, Goold tells The Daily Beast. One is almost like a Restoration comedy of mannerspeople talking ridiculously about frivolous topics. It is also a savage look at social excess, and it is also a Dostoevsky-esque story of crime, punishment, damnation, and redemption. It could just be camp, fun, and silly, but everyone in the play read the book and observed it said something profound to them.

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