I’m a loud and proud fan of American psychopath in all its forms because I think Bret Easton Ellis had no idea what he was doing and every adaptation of his novel told a better story for Patrick Bateman as a character. Ellis was making a comment, and his novel became a satirical masterpiece when told through the lens of literally anyone but Ellis – a common theme for his work. The film Less than zero was way better than his novel, and that continues to show that he has half-baked ideas that someone else needs to turn into masterpieces.
That’s why i like American psychopath like a movie and American Psycho the Musical so many. Tome, American psychopath is not only a commentary on wealth and the elite, but is also a critical look at the stigma against mental health that continues to permeate society (when appropriate correctly). I was part of the “Patrick Bateman Didn’t Kill Anyone” team from the first moment I came into contact with this story, and I’ll probably die thinking it.
But there is just something about this story and the story around it that continues to fascinate me. So when Duncan Sheik and Riverdale the creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has teamed up to bring me American Psycho the Musical, I couldn’t have been happier (especially since Patrick Bateman in the West End cast was the love of my life, Matt Smith). And while the Broadway show only lasted a month, it was a perfect exploration of Bateman as a character and brought Ellis’ work to life in a way he never could. So for me it’s a perfect adaptation and the best musical adaptation movie / book I’ve seen on Broadway in quite some time.
Ellis’ book is dense and difficult to read, not only because of its graphic nature, but because Bret Easton Ellis is so into his own metaphors and story that you miss the goodness of the story. Fortunately, we have designs like the original American psychopath Writer / Director Mary Harron and Co-Writer Guinevere Turner, who brought Ellis ‘characters to life in a way that reminded us of her novel’s messages without all of the ego that constantly ruins Ellis’ work.
But where American Psycho the Musical shines is the way he integrates Harron and Turner’s changes with Ellis’ original text to convey just how deranged Bateman is in his quest to be perfect. From his body to his obsession with being the best regardless of whether nobody cares, the musical is time and again a reminder that Patrick Bateman’s thirst for power and wealth stems from his horrific fascination with figures like Donald. Trump, rooted in sexism and racism.
Maybe that’s why the musical closed so early. Opening in 2016 against issues like Hamilton and before Hell’s elections in 2016, many did not to want to see a musical where his main character idolized Trump, despite the message it contained. But god, Aguirre-Sacasa has done an amazing job of figuring out why we’re obsessed with Bateman as a character while also honoring the changes that Harron and Turner made.
Duncan Sheik’s music was weird and very ’80s, and the fact that this show was lost for the horrible year 2016 hurts my soul. I would like him to come back to some extent, and I hope that someday he will. For now, I’ll be the loudest, proudest fan of American Psycho the musical.
(image: Sara Krulwich / The New York Times)
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