Built in just seven weeks , Kings Cross Theatre provides an original theatre venue for Bowie’s last body of work. Lazurus originally played on Broadway last December, and has made its way to a pop-up venue created specifically for the show in order to make its London debut.
Littered with his classics, as well as new versions of songs, the new musical is an adaptation of Walter Tevis’ 1963 book The Man Who Fell To Earth. Adapted by Enda Walsh, we see Thomas Jerome Newton (Michael C Hall), a stranded alien who is battling with his inability to die or return home. Stuck in his beige apartment building in a flurry of gin and Twinkies, we see the people passing through his life and fabricating in his mind. Close friend Michael (Tom Parsons) calls to check up on Newton, when he hears he’s not doing too well. We meet Elly (Amy Lennox) who works as his assistant and see her tumultuous relationship with boyfriend Zach (Richard Hansell). Shortly afterwards we’re introduced to Valentine (Michael Esper), whose hatred of loved-up couples drives him to kill people. Meanwhile, a series of teens are wandering around the scene, insisting Girl (Sophie Anna Caruso) has been sent to help Newton with something.
Okay, so the narrative isn’t particularly cohesive at all. In fact, the focus is on the music for the most part. But that’s okay, because it is so dazzling. With a live band on stage throughout, which we can see through clear panels on the stage, and some of the best performers, Bowie’s music comes to life. This is particularly true with Hall, as he is on the verge of being Bowie’s reincarnate. His voice is stylised to fit in with the music seamlessly. He conveys all sorts of rage and anguish during songs such as, ‘Killing a Little Time’ and ‘Heroes.’
Caruso is a dream as Girl, her voice is serene during songs such as ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘This Is Not America.’ She is touching and genuine, whilst physically she is extremely dynamic. The connection between Hall and Caruso is also extremely touching, they are quite the duo. As Valentine, Esper is seething to kill something, he is enticing and dangerous as well as monumentally charming. Particularly during ‘Valentine’s Day,’ his voice and demeanour purvey an outstanding actor.
The direction (Ivo Van Hove) and technological design (Jan Versweyveld) add so much to the show, the giant television screen centre stage is a main focal point. Whilst at other points, the entire stage becomes a projection, transporting you to a dive bar or second avenue New York. Whilst Newton is laid in his rocket, we see the view from above projected on the screen, at other times the scenes are projected in a distorted real-time behind them as they happen. All of it adds to the vision and confusion, whilst erratically throwing us from scene to scene.
As such a touching tribute to the late David Bowie, this show is a must see for die-hard fans as well as anyone who has ever felt a connection to this enigmatic legend.
Lazurus is playing Kings Cross Theatre until 22 January. For more information and tickets, see Lazarus the Musical website.
Photo: Johan Persson