So I went to Lazarus, which was great. And yes, it is a jukebox musical, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. The London run is almost over, so most of the things that need to be said about it have already been said, but what surprised me is how filmic it is — not just the inevitable back projections but the wide box in which all the action takes place, as if everything’s being shown in Cinemascope; the actors seem there but not there, flickering images on your retina. And yes, Michael C Hall is Thomas Jerome Newton from The Man Who Fell To Earth but not Bowie, and he’s not trying to be.
And inevitably I thought about what and who else is here but not here and what’s happened between the show opening in New York at the end of 2015, when Bowie was alive and would never die; and now, when a pantomime villain, a malevolent space beast has Fallen To Earth. 2016 happened, of course, and all the wrong people died.
And I thought about what art is going to look like in a world with the Bowies dying and the Trumps in charge, the people who fused Newton’s eyes still pulling the strings; and I went home and drank cold gin (I didn’t really) and ran my fingers over the scars that can’t be seen and read this depressing article in the FT about culture under Trump and this even more depressing article in The Quietus about the commodification of the alternative, not to mention the fact that his people don’t seem to think that hip-hop is properly American, and then I read about the government’s bright idea to turn the UK into a sort of cold, porridge-coloured Singapore (I went there once but it was closed) and all the stars that never were will try to sell mortgages to the stars that never will be and the only theatre will be jukebox musicals, but not like Lazarus. And there will still be music, but not like Bowie’s, more like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.