The Day I Met Matt Smith (sort of)

by - January 09, 2014

Yesterday I set my alarm for early in the morning and met up with a friend at the Almeida Theatre in Islington at about 8am. We stood in line until 11am when we were able to buy day of tickets for the new musical American Psycho starring Matt Smith as Patrick Bateman.

Waiting outside in line after a lot more people had joined the queue!
They let us into the lobby at 10am (tickets went on sale at 11am). Was nice to be warmer!

I remembered watching the film with Christian Bale sometime in college and to be honest I don’t particularly remember much about it. Other than knowing it was quite violent I didn’t remember many details and don’t remember any greater message.

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe I’ve matured. Maybe I’ve seen more of the world and had enough learning experiences to see things differently. Maybe the cast of the musical was that good. I don’t know.

Whatever the reason, this time I feel like I got it (or at least a better understanding). I got the satire. I could see the ludicrous caricatures of vain and shallow people driven by consumerism. I think there’s still some meanings I didn’t pick up (as subtext has never been my strong suit), but despite the fact the play is about a serial killer I enjoyed it. I would consider seeing it again.

In terms of the acting, I will preface by saying the downside of a play set in New York but cast and performed in England (where I assume most of the cast are from) is that the fake American accents can be a bit distracting. At least to me and the American friends I were with that picked up on some weaker accents. Matt Smith’s accent was really good I thought. It really impressed me. But even despite it’s accuracy, there were times it just sounded strange to me. Not because the words were wrong, but because this is the actor I’ve been watching on my Doctor Who screen with a very British accent for a few years. To be frank, it was weird not hearing him speak in a British accent. But again, his execution (no pun intended) of the accent was spot on and impressed me wildly. In fact other than a couple of actors whose accents slipped several times the whole cast impressed me. In some moments it was easy to forget I was in a theatre in London and not New York!

Regardless of a few accent slips though the acting was incredible. There’s not a single part I could or would want to complain about (except that part of me wishes I’d not felt like splitting up the group was such a bad thing so we could have been in the stalls!). Each character was played with ease and believability...despite some actors playing several characters! The singing was great...none of the voice cracking I’ve experienced in some musicals (I’m looking at you girl who played Mimi in a touring production of Rent a few years ago…). And all this with it being their second show of the day!

And the music. Oh Duncan Sheik, you are a master. I still haven’t seen Spring Awakening (even though I’ve wanted to) and if the music is a good, enjoyable, and fitting as it was in American Psycho then I would see it for the music alone! And please release a soundtrack for this!

The set, I thought was so clever. Walls of video cassette tapes, large white sections of wall where white noise, images, words, colors were projected to add to the visual aspect of the action on stage. Rotating platforms to move set pieces and even people...used for practical and comedic effect. Slats that looked like the blinds we had on the giant picture window in my old house, that both lended aesthetic value to the design of these expensive Manhattan apartments (which would have of course had giant picture windows) but that also allowed a separation where a chorus (of I guess conscience?) could be seen but not awkwardly in the action.

I did have one complaint about the set design. It it might be unfounded as I’m no expert in television sets. But from what I remember in the late 80s/early 90s (though quite young) is that TVs were fat, none of these thin LCD screens we’re used to now. And yet it was a sleek flat screen TV on set in Patrick Bateman’s apartment. Is this an anachronism used simply out of ease and space consciousness? Or were they available in that time to the narrow (rich) demographic that the character belonged to? If it’s the latter then of course it’s appropriate as that character would have most definitely had the best and latest money could buy...but if it’s the former I can’t help but think it’s a glaring oversight by an art designer and/or director? When we first sat down it was obvious it was Patrick Bateman’s apartment and I wondered if they had modern day until I remembered the logo was the old Walkman headphones so it must have still been that late 80s period.

Honestly though, if my biggest complaint about a two and a half hour musical is a TV that looks out of place and a few words/phrases said without the required American accent then I think the cast and crew have done a fantastic job. Long story short...if you are in London and able to wait in line in the morning to get day it! It is reasonably priced (the most expensive ticket offered to us was £38...I paid £26 for a full view seat in the friends with student ids were only £16 for any of the seats!). And most of all an excellent show!

I’m sorry that I’m not a trained theatre critic and I can’t give much substance to my opinions, but I still thought it would be interesting to talk about the play. However I have read this from others and will chime in as well...I will be shocked if it's not moved to the West End and then a future Broadway debut! (Though I hate to say it...I'd see it being recast for Broadway...I don't think American audiences would have the patience for a handful of the accents...and New Yorkers might even feel different to Matt's accent then I did, who knows!)

But I also wanted to talk about the fact that Matt Smith comes out and signs autographs for 10 minutes after the evening show. I bought the program for £5 (which I would have done anyway). Then after the show we made our way down to the lobby and stood near the staff only door (where we had interestingly enough seen a hooded Matt Smith with dinner in a bag, very much looking like he didn’t want to be bothered, so we didn’t, enter just before the show). After a few minutes and a decent but not huge crowd gathered he came out, set down his stuff and started signing.

I told him that I just had to say his American accent was awesome and really impressed me...and he said thank you and acted like that was a genuinely nice compliment to receive (probably because my own accent is so apparent!)..signed my program and then I got out of the way for everyone else. A picture would have been nice but it wasn’t conducive to that, the lighting was horrendous in the lobby, and my phone was pretty much dead anyway.

(As an aside, if you’re ever in a group waiting to get an autograph and someone is done and trying to back out of said would do you well to let them pass as that gets you immediately closer to your goal!)

Signed program!

All in all it was a great play, a nice experience to (sort of) meet Matt Smith, and well worth the effort to get there for tickets. Again, if you are in London and capable of going early to wait for tickets...I can’t say it it! Do it! DO IT!

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  1. Oh wowowowowowo!!! I am beyond jealous of you, DANG (pretend I said that in an American accent). I would love to meet Matt Smith, I would find it weird him having an American accent too. I'm glad you actually got to speak to him, I probably would have just cried and would not have been able to get anything out!

    Corinne x

    1. Haha yeah it was all very fast but a well deserved compliment so I couldn't miss the opportunity!

  2. American Psycho is quite possibly one of my favourite books, so I was excited when I saw this advertised as a musical, and even more excited when I found they had cast Matt Smith in it. I'm going to see it on Saturday. But I don't think I'll be brave enough to wait around for Matt Smith

    I've heard lots of my friends tell me he's very nice in real life though x

    1. It went very fast, but he was so great to get everyone's American Psycho stuff signed. The crowd on a Saturday might be bigger than I had, but I think it's worth waiting around if you can.

      A friend I was with went to a Doctor Who event where she paid for a ticket so got an actual couple of minutes time to say a few things and take a picture with him and said he was so kind a great at that event as I'd say he's probably just a genuinely nice guy that appreciates his fans!