Review Round-Ups

What did the critics make of David Bowie's Lazarus?

The piece, starring Michael C Hall, has transferred from New York

Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"Cards on table. I loved David Bowie; he is one of the most important cultural figures in my life… So with every bone in my body I was longing to adore Lazarus… And I did. At moments. But not all the time."

"Its themes are pertinent and potentially deeply moving. But what it lacks is any real narrative arc…"

"Walsh's preoccupations with people's need to live fantasy lives are a dominant theme. But as Lazarus progresses, it is Bowie's belief in the power of the imagination and the mind to create and encompass new worlds that comes to the fore."

Paul Taylor, The Independent


"It’s sad to to reflect that Lazarus is simultaneously the first of [Bowie's] theatre projects to come to full fruition and his parting gift to the world… How consoling, though, to discover what a rare and mesmeric testament this is."

"Michael C Hall (of Dexter fame) is hypnotically brilliant as Newton. His voice is fuller-bodied than Bowie's but there are uncanny similarities of intonation… Bowie wrote three eloquent new songs for this show and the extraordinarily gifted fifteen-year-old performer, Sophia Anne Caruso, brings a shattering plangency to the lovely "No Plan""

"The deep imaginative integrity of this meditation on despair, hope and the seeking of release is… beyond question. As is the flawless expressiveness of the staging… Tal Yarden’s video design gives us brilliant access to Newton’s tormented mind in a virtuosic stream of imagery"

"The piece lasts, without interval, for one hour and fifty minutes. I sat rapt throughout."

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out


"If you haven’t seen – and liked – the film, you’ll quite possibly be totally at sea here. If you do love its brooding vibes, you may cringe at a couple of moments where its icy aloofness is punctured by overly-sincere, X Factor-style performances of a couple of numbers."

"Unlike Bowie's towering final album Blackstar, Lazarus is a flawed work. But I can't help but love it… In no small part that's down to Hall, magnificently other as the depressed immortal, and with a powerful vibrato that sounds uncannily like Bowie's."

"…But more than that, and casting objectivity to the wind, I feel moved by the very existence of Lazarus, which feels like Bowie's final tour, final testament and last eccentric project all wrapped into one."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"[Lazarus] is part sci-fi story, part rock concert, part video installation, part study in alienation. But, while the separate ingredients are fascinating to watch in Ivo van Hove’s kaleidoscopic production, I rarely felt moved."

"The big draw is clearly the Bowie score… When Amy Lennox – the main newcomer to the cast and outstanding as Elly – sings the 1971 song "Changes", it seems a logical expression of her urge to transform herself into the lost Mary-Lou."

"Of course, it’s great to hear the Bowie songs and his death lends the show a patina of melancholy. But, watching this spectacular study of a pained outsider’s search for peace, I too felt a sense of alienation."

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


"Whether it is the trio of new songs, or the fresh interpretations of familiar numbers, the particular dramatic resonance of any given lyric is hard to discern."

"Belgian director Ivo van Hove has made a brave choice in giving us a beige (ugh!) set to look at for nearly two hours, with a less than lovely hinterland of blokey musicians looming behind the apartment windows. The video projections are surprisingly rudimentary given Bowie’s avant-gardism."

"Was I disappointed? Yes. But just hearing (live and loud) some of those classics… causes a mist of emotion-steeped reverie to descend. For some, that’ll be enough."

Ann Treneman, The Times (£)

"…with a script by Enda Walsh and a soundtrack by Bowie, [Lazarus] was a sell-out in New York. But, frankly, it’s pretentious rubbish."

"Characters drift on and off… They are cartoons and not in a good way: Newton (Michael C Hall) so wooden; the villain Valentine (Michael Esper) laughably awkward. Newton’s cleaner Elly (Amy Lennox) has to keep changing her clingy outfits, adding heels until she resembles an escaper from an Allen Jones painting."

"It’s one hour and fifty minutes, no interval. Thirty minutes in, I was ready to bolt. I got so bored that I started to redesign my kitchen in my head. The one star of this review is for the musicians and the actors. Otherwise, it would be zero. Don’t give them the money. Listen at home."