I last watched “American Psycho,” the musical adapted from Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel and the shocking 2000 film, in New York in 2017. Splashy show – I think it’s Broadway meets “Dexter”, minus the morality and with an added dose. unreliable narrative claim – failed quickly and disappeared in about six weeks. I haven’t seen it since. I never saw this as a big loss.
But Kokandy Productions and producing artistic director Derek Van Barham have been doing some interesting things lately in the Chicago-style basement of the Chopin Theater in Wicker Park, one of my favorite places in the city and one of the city’s old semi-sacred stamping grounds. auteur director David Cromer. So I get to take another spin with Patrick Bateman, the 27-year-old investment banker and handsome serial killer who has blue blood in his icy veins and whose idea of a good time doesn’t end with “face sucking” in a chandelier-lined room. empty, friends heading to the Hamptons.
“American Psycho” was arguably the first movie in a series from the 1990s. end of century novels featuring characters torn between sensual satisfaction and existential dread. Poor, miserable Patrick, in a moment of self-reflection, says, as every rich 27-year-old declares, “The world is going crazy.”
The shocking elements of the nihilistic novel are doubled down by book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and composer Duncan Sheik, who combine an original score with covers of club standards of the period. Fun, retro experiences include “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Hip to Be Square” and “Don’t You Want Me.” Many have attractive harmonic arrangements that this skilled vocal cast does excellent justice to. In fact, these are the most sensual moments in the material.
In 2017, everything still felt so crude, shallow, and full of obnoxious, objectified characters who, in some cases, felt like they were being forced to contort in agony in front of you. Or, to put it another way, it felt like a device to excite New York’s rancid banking class in their first-class seats and reassure them that at least they weren’t as bad as they were. This man. Not unless they’re going around stabbing their friends.
And now? With its Walkmans, 30-inch screens and pictures-in-picture, the work resembles a cultural visitor, if not from another planet, then certainly from another time and place, which adds to its appeal to some extent.
And this is a production of extraordinary courage, I don’t take that as faint praise.
It’s one thing to realize these things by removing the proscenium stage; it’s another thing entirely to do it about a foot away from the front row of the audience and make everything feel real, or real enough for the show. If you’re interested in immersive design trends, check out the work of G. . When the characters go to dinner at a place impossible to make a reservation for, they sit in rows, highlighting one of the show’s central themes: a time and place devoid of true intimacy. Maxin, who also makes lights and projections, works without a huge budget. Great, great talent.
There are also some young artists worth seeing here; who wreaks havoc on various victims, including enigmatic lead Kyle Patrick, who sometimes has little more than precious Calvin Kleins, business rival Paul, and the similarly excellent John Drea. Many members of the ensemble are stuck with typecast characters, but they do the best they can, and I especially admired Sonia Goldberg, who plays Jean, listening intently and offering the only beating heart. this is more of a comment on the writing than the acting.
I can’t say I’m convinced that “American Pyscho” was treated unfairly by critics in 2017. And I suspect Kokandy weren’t allowed to change too much, especially since they were mostly working on one track with just one live keyboard. It’s a shame because a tighter practice time would be a big plus.
Hopefully, in this relatively long term, the pace will increase by today’s standards. You won’t be bored even for a moment. And if you’re looking for a Halloween-time experience, the level of artistry found in Breon Arzell’s choreography and elsewhere here is much higher than what you’ll find in most of your alternatives.
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Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.
Review: “American Psycho” (3 stars)
When: Until November 26
Where: Kokandy Productions, at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St.
Working time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Tickets: $40-50 www.kokandyproductionlar.com