My visits to live performance institutions can be counted with one hand. Especially this year when I’m not attending any concerts due to coronavirus. That’s why my objectivity for such events doesn’t exist, but the appreciation of them is high. Especially when it comes to a project involving David Bowie.
Lazarus is a play that Bowie worked on in the last years of his life with Enda Walsh in New York. It involves a book that was clearly very appealing to him. “A Man Who Fell to Earth” by Walter Tevis is a story out of this Earth. I’ve never read the book, but the film is in ways disturbing and unforgettable. Bowie even starred in the film adaptation of it, back in 1976.
Thomas Jerome Newton is an alien who fell to Earth and cannot go back home. He’s achieved everything and more on our little planet, he has even fallen in love. Yet, people used him, started to make experiments on him and then declared him insane. And here he is, at something that can be called the end, but for him is only a never-ending wait.
This is when Lazarus starts. With the obvious song performed by Marcin Czarnik. I was impressed by his voice that gave a Bowie vibe. Not sure if intended, but every song he sang was an impressive attempt to become the legendary rockstar himself. And I don’t mind at all! He made me feel like at the Bowie concert I’ve never had a chance to attend.
The rest of the cast was as impressive in the music department, yet not without discord. Even though Changes performed by Ewa Szlempo-Kruszyńska gave me shivers, the one that hurt me the most was “Life on Mars” by Klaudia Waszak. She screamed the high notes in the chorus in this rather delicate song. I’d really prefer her to do falsetto than attempting to make it loud. Or maybe it was something I didn’t understand?
It is possible. The play was rather open to interpretation and full of double meanings. Very minimalistic production design and focus on a moving background were only the largest clues on what to make out of the play. There were a lot of scenes, especially while songs, that made me confused and intrigued. I could have seen plenty of similarities with Lynch’s work (with whom Bowie was friends). A very possible reason why I enjoyed it even though I don’t feel I truly understood it.
This is an ode to hope and dreams. Not to give up even when the world feels like the nemesis. That there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. And that we can be heroes. Even if just for one day.
Thank you, Capitol, for bringing it to Wrocław in such brilliant way.
PS. If you intend to see the performance and you don’t speak Polish, choose balcony. You’ll thank me later.