American Psycho: The Musical
Updated: Jun 11, 2021
American Psycho – the musical
Based on the novel ‘American Psycho’ 1991, by Bret Easton Ellis and influenced by the film ‘American Psycho’ 2000, directed by Mary Harron.
‘American Psycho’ the novel, is still sold wrapped in plastic in Australia. I have not read the Bret Easton Ellis novel nor seen the Mary Harron film. I resisted because both sounded far too grizzly.
I decided to see the musical as I determined ‘anything - the musical’ would contain a surreal, other worldliness that would dilute the female-dismembering blow of the original ‘American Psycho’ text. It does.
‘American Psycho’ is set in an era of Walkman cassette players, discos, yuppies, and overt conspicuous consumption; where luxury brands had more cache than they do now; young traders sniffed white powders to take the edge off the risk/return trades in which they were involved …. and the financial market was relatively unregulated for those who wanted to make huge amounts of money. It was a period in time when many involved in Wall Streets’ financial industries became very, very rich.
Our 27-year old anti-hero, Patrick Bateman (Ben Gerrard ) is one such Hugo Boss suited, Vuitton shoe-wearing, holiday-in-the-Hampshire’s kind of a guy. Patrick has a sterling career on Wall Street, a stunning apartment (Tom Cruise lives in the Penthouse!), and a number of womens’ dismembered bodies carefully stashed round town.
To further flesh out Patrick’s life, he has a gorgeously vacuous girlfriend who wants to marry him, an alcoholic mother who thinks he is an angel (maybe?), and a group of besties who are as superficial and brand obsessed as is he. (They don’t kill women though, that little penchant would appear to be unique to Patrick).
I am probably the only person in the book-reading and film-watching universe who has only heard of ‘American Psycho’ due to my avoiding both book and film, so I can’t tell you how this stage version compares with the other mediums.
This musical’s production, however, is superbly and appropriately shiny and slick. Mirror structures surround the cast so they can continually check themselves out in their expensive suits and be assured that they exist. The costumes are 80’s spot-on. The cast is talented, buff, and can sing and dance up a storm while being as superficially engaging as one could expect for the portrayal of an era where greed went awry. Unlike Oliver Stone's 'Wall Street', 'American Psycho' goes way beyond presenting greed as a motivating force to rev up the economy for the many, to a monstrosity that completed corrupted the few (and more than likely, both these greed driven behaviours existed side-by-side, and maybe still do). The whole world of mega salaries, celebrity CEOs, and the oh-so-grey areas of ‘deal-making’ are wonderfully sent-up.
If you, like me, avoided both book and movie because you thought they would be too abhorrent, do go and see this musical version of ‘American Psycho: The Musical’. A highly entertaining spoof on the horrors of monster-creating greed.
Sydney Opera House
Until 27 June