Matt Smith's American Psycho: reviews of the musical thriller

American Psycho

Musical adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis's iconic novel is "diabolically slick" but does it need more horror?

LAST UPDATED AT 07:34 ON Mon 16 Dec 2013
What you need to know

Reviewers are calling a musical adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis's iconic 1980s novel American Psycho, just opened at the Almeida Theatre London, "diabolically slick" and "dangerously entertaining", but some crave more horror. Rupert Goold directs the "musical thriller" with a book by Glee writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and music by Duncan Sheik.

Doctor Who star Matt Smith appears in the lead role as Patrick Bateman, a yuppie corporate banker who embraces a consumerist 1980s Manhattan lifestyle. Rich, successful and good looking, Patrick spends his time buying clothes and visiting exclusive restaurants, but privately he is disturbed by murderous urges and the disappearance of people around him. Runs until 1 February.

What the critics like

Matt Smith makes for a compelling Patrick in Goold's "diabolically slick production", says Paul Taylor in The Independent. Ellis's novel is an improbable subject for a tuner but this witty, knowing show tackles that difficulty with deadpan cheek and the all-singing-and-dancing company perform the piece with terrific attack.
 
"It works superbly thanks to Rupert Goold's stylish production, Duncan Sheik's music and Matt Smith's beautifully defined performance as the deluded hero," says Michael Billington in The Guardian. The show confirms the mythic power of Easton Ellis's story and leaves us all dangerously entertained.
 
"This skilful interpretation is built around a superb performance by Matt Smith, who serves up an intriguing blend of nihilism, cold vanity and twisted charm," says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. Rupert Goold's staging is charismatic and the show preserves the spirit of the novel while cutting some of its more mind-bendingly unpleasant scenes.

What they don't like

In the Daily Telegraph, Charles Spencer complains that while Goold's production is smart and sharp, "like the novel on which it is based, it is also glib, heartless and pretentious." And in Variety, David Benedict is concerned that the musical's "near-total refusal to depict the gore that defines the work robs the show of darkness and, for the most part, any galvanizing sense of horror." · 

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