Lazarus is a loose sequel to the seminal The Man Who Fell To Earth, set roughly four decades later. Thomas Newton (Bowie in the film, Michael C Hall here) is an alien adrift on earth, miserable and unable either to die in peace or to head home to a half-remembered love known only as ‘Mary-Lou’. Living in isolation in a New York apartment and surviving on gin and Twinkies, Newton becomes beset by increasingly vivid visions, of a nameless girl and a serial killer known as Valentine. And all this is accompanied by rearranged songs from Bowie’s back catalogue, ranging from classics such as ‘Heroes’ and ‘Life on Mars’ to new works such as ‘No Plan’ and, of course, ‘Lazarus’.
In van Hove’s energetic, pacy staging (less than two hours without interval), the point and meaning of Lazarus is up for debate. At times, thanks to Hall’s brilliantly opaque performance, it seems to verge on near-Shakespearean richness; there are allusions to Hamlet, The Tempest and King Lear scattered about if you want to find them. Alternatively, it can simply be enjoyed as an original and clever re-imagining of one of the great canons of popular music, connected by an intriguing and original depiction of a very specific kind of personal hell. Either way, it’ll engender plenty of debate.
Hall is the big box-office draw (apart from Bowie, of course), but he’s matched by the brilliant 15-year old discovery Sophia Anne Caruso as his anonymous muse and the chilling Michael Esper as a grinning, demonic agent of chaos. But credit must also go to musical director Henry Hey, whose rearrangements of familiar songs reimagine them in fresh and vivid fashion. Argument will no doubt rage amongst Bowie-philes as to ‘his’ and ‘Walsh’s contributions, but the clever, occasionally witty script never fails to intrigue, just as the songs (eighteen in all) cannot but thrill. A great night for anyone, Bowie obsessive or not.
|Lazarus, Kings Cross Theatre review
|Kings Cross Theatre, King's Cross, , London, , N1C 4UR | MAP
|King's Cross St. Pancras (underground)
25 Oct 16 – 22 Jan 17, Tuesday to Sunday at 8pm
|Click here to book tickets