Lazarus was first performed at the end of 2015 in New York and was one of the last works Bowie completed before his death in early 2016. The musical is inspired by Walter Tevis’s novel The Man Who Fell to Earth which Bowiefamously, starred in. Created By David Bowie and Enda Walsh, as a theatre enthusiast, you know you’re going to be given an entertaining, one-of-a-kind theatre experience.
Lazarus’ final performances will take place this weekend, (22/01/17) and so I thought I would share my wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience of this production. If you are someone who loves Bowie and the theatre, and you who were not able to see this live, I want you to know, you missed out. You missed out, big time. (I’m sorry but it’s true.) However, there are wonderful clips and images all over social media which capture the magic.
When I was in Year 10 (High school days) In my English class we were asked what three songs we would take to a desert Island, to listen to forever. The only song that came into my head was Life on Mars by David Bowie. Safe to say, it would still be my answer now. It is no secret that I have always been an avid fan of his work. Even when I lived in New York I would try to go to bars and eateries where Bowie might hang out or visit just to sit in his aura and feed off his energy. (Creepy stalker vibe, right there.) He was someone I had always wanted to meet. When Bowie was writing Blackstar my friend and I saved up our money to pay any ridiculous amount to see him live. We were prepared to travel the world to see him perform. Then, unfortunately, in early January 2016 our hero passed away.
I woke up to numerous missed called and messages of condolence, I truly thought someone in my immediate circle had passed away. I had messages from people from high-school saying that when they heard they thought of me. This was a lovely sentiment, but my heart was broken.
I was so incredibly happy to be able to get tickets for this show. Many were worried it wouldn’t transfer to London and we are all so very grateful that it did. I knew that the show would incorporate his music and I was so fearful that the actors/performers/singers wouldn’t live up to the audiences and my high-expectations. I can imagine there being a tremendous pressure, especially after Bowie’s death.
But boy, they did a remarkable job. I only saw this show a few weeks ago and I was overwhelmed with creativity and talent.
The staging was imaginative, yet simple; the colours were bland which made certain aspects of the piece have an extra popping effect for the audience. The piece really made use of the performance space. Lazarus is set in a room/apartment with a double bed and a refrigerator. There is a screen in the middle of the stage and one above it on the ceiling, which were used for projections. The use of these projects added a different dimension to the piece, yet they were not distracting from the story line or the music. They helped define emotion and pace.
For me, the band performing on stage, behind the windows of the room, meant that when the music was playing it was the most significant and important thing on the stage. In classic theatre settings, when there is an Orchestra Pit, it can create a comfortable distance between the actors, the music and the audience. Whilst in Lazarus, you felt alive and connected with the music on stage; as if you were at a David Bowie concert. The song list covered Bowie’s classics such as All the Young dudes, Changes, Heroes, Absolute Beginners and my favourite, Life on Mars. So cleverly done to create a story that takes the audience through an emotional journey through Bowie’s career and life
At times, a lot was happening on stage at times, and unlike previous shows I have seen, this show proved that you can take everything a theatre space can offer and it can work. Not one aspect felt overly powerful or over-used. It felt wonderfully natural and flowed very well. There was one section where black balloons were released from under the windows and were blown around the stage. It was little sections such as this that really captured the creativity and childlike, pleasant madness that Bowie had.
I cannot compliment the cast more on their performances. When Michael, C. Hall first began to sing we didn’t realise it was him. Not only did he look like The Man Who Fell to Earth but he sounded like him as well. Hall gave a heart-felt, deep, personal performance. He carried emotions of anguish, pain and desire throughout the piece and his energy swept through the stage and audience.
Sophia Anne Caruso is a fabulous performer, who I’ll keep my eye out for in future performances. When I googled her, her age, I felt a rush of pride that someone so young is so talented and doing so well. Her vocal ability is outstanding and the emotions she was portraying ran deep enough that I bet even the back row could feel them.
The final scene where Hall and Caruso sing Heroes together was so poignant, you could feel the hearts breaking in the room. The imagery of Hall in his Rocket Ship as if he is finally leaving, to go onto, what we all hope, is a better place, left the audience speechless. The final image of David Bowie appearing on a screen was like a final farewell and goodbye from him to his fans, and even writing this a lump comes into my throat and my eyes are welling up. It was tasteful, beautiful and touching.
This review may appear that I have no criticisms, which istrue. I don’t. Okay, I have one small one, a lot of us waited at the stage door for almost over an hour and none of the top four actors/actresses came out. I don’t expect them to, but it’s so nice when they do and you can congratulate them on their performances… and get pictures to make all your friends jealous. Seriously, I am writing to express the absolute pleasure it was to experience this show. My mother and auntie are huge Bowie fans and I got them tickets for the final show this weekend.
So, good luck to everyone. Watch out for two women who look like Patsy and Edina in the crowd who will be sobbing.
“We can be heroes, just for one day.”