Monday, 28 December 2015

David Bowie and Edna Walsh's LAZARUS at the New York Theatre Workshop

     I must admit that I spent most of LAZARUS in a state of bafflement. Was the lead character, Thomas Newton (Michael C. Hall), really from outer space or was he delusional? Were any of the other characters "real" or was Newton imagining them all? I guess Newton's female assistant and her abusive husband were supposed to fit into the "real category." This is not a show with a linear narrative or anything resembling conventional dramatic characters. The question is whether there is anything to relate to emotionally. David Bowie's music (some old songs, some new) isn't up to the standard of the better contemporary musicals and his lyrics, as much as one can understand them given the miking, are certainly below the level of most musicals. I guess you have to be a Bowie fan.
     This is the first time I have seen the work of Ivo van Hove, who is the director du jour on both sides of the Atlantic. I gave A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE a miss (can't stand the play). His staging here didn't look particularly original. There was a lot of crawling around the floor (no furniture--supposedly a van Hove trademark) and slouching against walls.
      Fortunately there were two charismatic performances. Michael C. Hall totally threw himself into the role of Newton. He sings very well -- even can sound eerily like Bowie in places -- and has always been an interesting actor. As his and everyone else's nemesis, Michael Esper is a riveting actor and singer. Esper is one of our greater theatrical talents. Cristin Milioti was fabulous on television's FARGO his season, but I have always found her drippy on stage. Lynn Craig sang beautifully as Newton's imaginary companion.
     I'm afraid I didn't warm to LAZARUS. My husband loved it, so I may be in the wrong here.

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