◼ SOMETHING IS IN THE AIR. Bowie as you’ve never seen him before. Nothing new about that. But here he is with black spectacles and short-back-and-sides (plus a hint of moustache or mere cool stubble?) coming and going while his new show Lazarus is in rehearsals in New York, modestly and without fuss, sitting in the auditorium for previews alongside its director Ivo van Hove. “No one saw him sat there! ‘I can behave very well so nobody sees I’m there,’ he would say.” And before an enthusiastic first-night audience on Monday, Bowie appeared unshowily on stage to take a bow along with the cast. In fact, he looked inwardly chuffed.
The multimedia production is co-written with Enda Walsh and presented off-Broadway at the 200-seat New York Theatre Workshop. It is Bowie’s surreal live stage re-imagining of The Man Who Fell To Earth, according to the entertainment site ShockTillYouDrop. “This is a Bowie show. Lazarus takes pieces from Bowie’s music, album covers, music videos, and more, to belie a virtual scrapbook of the artist’s career and ideas new, used and unused.”
The New York Times decides it’s a “great-looking and mind-numbing new musical built around songs by David Bowie”, four of them new (Lazarus, No Plan, Killing a Little Time and When I Met You). Some songs “are rhapsodies of alienation; cries of solitary pain turn into our collective pleasure”.
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Under the headline “Bowie’s weirdly brilliant off-Broadway masterpiece”, The Daily Beast says: “Lazarus contains its own surreal logic, but at its heart seems to be about love and connection, and the forces that can make or violently break such connections.”
Rolling Stone declares it a “Surrealistic tour de force: Impromptu kabuki actors invade the stage. And through it all, the humanoid Thomas Newton [The Man Who Fell to Earth] — played by golden-throated Michael C. Hall, who is best known for his roles on Dexter and Six Feet Under but whose theatrical credits include big roles in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Cabaret and Chicago — mostly remains stoic, lonely, yearning. At its core, Lazarus is a two-hour meditation on grief and lost hope (with no intermission), but it takes so many wild, fantastical, eye-popping turns that it never drags.”
In a nutshell, The Wrap media website raves: “It’s the best jukebox musical ever. That may not sound like much of a compliment, but when you put David Bowie’s musical catalogue at the service of book writers Bowie and Enda Walsh and director Ivo van Hove, the result is more than unique. It’s terrific must-see theater.”
Meanwhile in little ole London, look what has appeared on a billboard at Olympia – a stylish poster counting down to the January launch of Bowie’s new album, ★. And a Bowie New Year to us all!
➢ The V&A touring exhibition David Bowie is. . .
opens 11 Dec at the Groninger Museum in Holland, running until 13 March…
➢ Plan your channel-hop with The Man in Seat 61