I watched Lazarus again last night. It was being streamed for David Bowie’s 74th birthday and I cannot say thank you enough to the Bowie powers on high for doing this.
I first watched Lazarus live on stage at Kings Cross four years ago. I have limited funds so had to decide if I see it once with a good ticket or buy a couple of shows and sit at the back. I have always been a stalls gal so decided to go once, but go all out. I dressed up as if it were a big night out even though I was at a matinee. I took my youngest son with me and we watched in awe of the show. He was so blown away after the show he actually got a tattoo of the Lazarus rocket which is even more obscure than my Blackstar tattoo. He was still a teenager when he saw this show but that was how profound the impact it had on him; well, on us both. My original review is here.
I would describe Lazarus, not as a musical, but as a play of a slow descent into madness, put to music. Actually. maybe it’s not madness, but instead each character locked in their own version of hell. Valentine told me whose to go. He says do not make snap judgements about people being lunatics. He says its kinder not to. I am paraphrasing but you get the jist. Lazarus is so much more than a play and nothing like a jukebox musical. Its not for everyone and many will not get its layers and the hidden meanings there to discover. Others will debate them for years to come, and me? Well, I will just let it wash over me – drinking it in – in all its glory.
Last night was the first time it has been streamed and it was long overdue. I had been nagging and begging on social media for years about releasing this on DVD. I knew it had been filmed as it was filmed the same weekend that I had seen it. I saw the Saturday matinee and it was filmed on the Sunday. I had the option to go to the filmed version but it was difficult to get trains home as they couldn’t say when it would finish. This streamed version is as near to my experience as I am ever likely to get.
Firstly, I had never really streamed anything before. I was so stressed at trying to sort out which device I should play it on. Should I launch it from my mobile phone and try to cast it to my smart TV. Dice said that there was a test phone number and code if you wanted to see if your device would work but their code didn’t work. I knew it wasn’t me as my friend also had issues. So, in the end I spent all morning hunting for an HMDI cable to connect up my laptop. Then had to work out how to get HDMI 3 up on my TV. TV’s are confusing these days.
But then Lazarus was on a countdown on my TV screen. Both my boys watched with me. I cried. I sang. I remembered bits of it from the first time and discovered more about the characters this time around. This time I felt sorry for Valentine. He was so desperate to be loved. Although he still scares me, I felt I understood his motivations better. He wasn’t born evil. Elly and her obsession with Mary Lou - I get that too. She is so pained from her stale relationship that feels all work and no play that she dreams of being loved as much as Thomas loved Mary-Lou. She thinks if she can become Mary-Lou, then maybe she can experience that kind of love, but in doing so she is losing herself. It makes a stark parallel to David Bowie and him killing off his Ziggy Stardust character before it took over him. The blue wig I believe is so that audience can tell when she is descending into the madness of becoming Mary-Lou. I think its symbolic rather than saying Mary-Lou has blue hair. And Newton. Michael C Hall is just sublime as Newton. You can see how scared he is. How tired of life he has become. How much he longs for an escape. An end to it all. Sophia is outstanding as ‘The Girl’ and I adore her innocence and how pure her voice makes the songs sound. Someone so young is leading someone so old, drunk and knowing to a new path. On a new journey. There is so much more to read into. I wondered if Newton’s relationship with the girl is how Bowie saying goodbye to Lexi and for her to know she will never be forgotten by him. But these are just my thoughts. Watch it yourself and experience its bitter-sweet brilliance.
The wonderful thing about the filming is the real close ups of the faces of the actors. Even though I was in the second row at Kings Cross, I couldn’t see them that close. This show is just everything that was needed after living through 2020. I am not saying this is an upbeat show, but the dialogue as sparks of comedy amongst its dark journey. As soon as it was finished, I felt I wanted to watch it again. I had to phone someone so I picked on some Bowie friends who were watching to talk about it. You will need to talk about it. If you don’t have a Bowie friend at hand, message me.
One of Newtons last lines in the show is: I’m done with this life. So, a new universe I’ll dream big up there. ... I’ve stepped off this earth and into this better place. An imagined world… Do you think we can get lost in these stars? You can hear David Bowie in these lines. I like to think he is exploring the stars above us. I hope this is the case and that somebody up there likes me.
Thank you all for your lovely comments. Here are a selection below:
Bella - Loved this review!
Julesnkev - Loved reading your feelings on re-living your memories from 4 years ago via last night's stream as so many of your thoughts mirror ours ..... a very enjoyable read, thank you
Vic - Thank you for that writing too.
Keith - Nice review. We also saw it live (a few times) but seeing it again tonight was a unique perspective- exactly as you said, with seeing close up reactions on faces - particularly in the Valentine ‘Sound & Vision’ climax. Loved it (again) and now want a blu ray copy.
Jo - Thanks Jasmine. I love your description, it is indeed madness set to music. My husband once said ‘what’s it about?’ Now,how do you answer that ?!! I feel as relaxed as I’ve felt in weeks- so all is good
Mari - What a fantastic review. Thank you xxx
David - Just watched it and it made more sense second time! Xx
Gabrielle - Wonderful review thank you! It echoed a lot if my feelings seeing lazarus again for the first time since London. Seeing their faces and expressions close-up really added to the experience. Just love it!
Susanna - Really nice and emotional review!
Caroline - Well put. There's deep understanding of trauma here and how it affects people - and Valentine, horrible as he is, is the one who voices it.
Tony - Watched it tonight here in the UK and thought it was wonderful. I was in tears as well! I agree about watching a descent into madness but also about each character's problems. Definitely had sympathy for them all. Overall, very emotional!
David - I saw the Kings Cross production from the rear stalls and , as you say, being able to see the actors faces makes a big difference. Knowing more of the back story helped, though there was quite a lot i'd forgotton.
Ray - Didn't remember that line... do you think we can get lost in those stars?. Excellent stuff Jasmine.