I descended into a funk after watching Lazarus at the Kings Cross Theatre.
I had prepared myself carefully. I bought and listened to the soundtrack so I was not derailed by the musical theatre renditions of Bowie classics.
I had reacquainted myself with Nicholas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth, which remains a dazzling, puzzling masterpiece (even if I still reckon it is minutes too long).
I was aware that some people had been bamboozled by the plot, but this didn’t worry me as I like being made pleasantly fraught by opaque plotting.
Though I have reached a point where being near too many people makes me bristle and seek my attic space since I found out that there were more ugly thoughts coming out of hibernation in people’s skulls than I had imagined, I was quite comfortable in the pre show hubbub. I had also been perked up by spotting some intriguing plastic surgery that had just reached the point of tightness where the subtlety of the facial adjustment is lost.
I happily wasted £8 on a programme and, as it contained a full page reproduction of that enchanting last shot of Bowie, hatted, sock-less and laughing.
I can’t remember when I got cross. I was very tired and carrying an insomnia headache so that may have tainted my judgement.
There are many things I liked in this production. There is some ingenious use of a screen. We see previously filmed scenes replicating the action on stage, just different enough to the acted action in front of us to create a disconnect and befuddlement of the mind.
Michael C Hall’s interpretation of Lazarus is a stand out moment, perhaps it is unfortunate that this is the first thing we see. It is followed by It’s No Game, complete with TV geisha being made flesh, another powerful and mysterious rendition.
The projections are mesmerising and vivid throughout.
The cast brilliantly convey both fragility and brutality.
Michael Esper’s Valentine’s Day is Over is captivating and terrifying.
Yet, for a musical which has much imagination invested in it and on display, I was increasingly unmoved. And I was annoyed with myself for teetering toward boredom.
By the end, I was grumpy and huffy – grumpy and huffy during Heroes? How preposterous.
I am so annoyed at being disappointed by Lazarus that I plan to go and see it again to work out where I went wrong. I am highly sceptical of my critical faculties.
When talking about it with Brian Cox, who loved it, I recalled many things I should have delighted in, so why didn’t I?
I don’t think I cared about Thomas Newton. His enigmatic extraterrestrial quality was so long lost that it just seemed to be another show about a drunk misanthrope obsessing over love lost near a gin fridge.
The problem with gluing songs to the narrative is that so many had nothing really to do with the plot. I knew these were great pop songs that existed to be great pop songs of movie themes, not to convey the disintegrating minds or bloodlust or despair in a richer narrative. The later songs seemed to fair best in fitting into the narrative, but they also carried the problem that they had been beautifully visually manifested in the videos that went with them at the time.
The button-eyed Bowie in bed and closet released leotard Bowie dance imp of the video are such a spell of melancholy enchantment that I would rather spend 1 hour and 45 minutes watching that over and over again.
I wish the plot had been more confusing, not less. I would love to have had the rapid, fractured sadness and madness of Newton as a series of insane tableaus, but this offered just enough plot to be slightly annoyed by it. I want to see an explosive Bowie ballet.
But what the fuck do I know? I was surrounded by people giving the show a standing ovation. It is adored and I can be ignored.