Wednesday, 18 April 2018

'Bat Out of Hell', 17/04/2018; a review.

On Tuesday 17th of April 2018, I saw – well, 'witnessed' somehow seems a more appropriate term in this case – 'Bat Out of Hell'. 
Jim Steinman's stunning musical featuring Meat Loaf's greatest hits has made its official - and very triumphant - return to London's West End. After its successful spell in the Coliseum last year, the show is now filling the historic Dominion Theatre with its electrifying energy and operatic sounds. 




'Bat Out of Hell went on to become one of the most successful and iconic rock albums of all time; but it was originally written as a musical. 40 years after its release, Jim Steinmans exhilarating tale of star-crossed lovers ‘changed the way musicals are staged forever’ (North West End) as a boundary-pushing spectacle featuring thrilling performances of legendary hits by Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf.'




The musical tells the story of the forever-young Strat and his wild gang The Lost, who live in the streets of OBSIDIAN (a post-apocalyptic Manhattan), under the rule of the (evil but sexy) tyrant Falco.  Strat falls hard for Falco’s daughter, Raven – and rock ‘n’ roll rebellion madness ensues. 

The musical’s songbook boasts 17 of Meat Loaf’s biggest hits, including ‘I’d Do Anything for Love’, ‘You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth’ – and ‘Bat Out of Hell’, obvs. But they make you wait for the latter – by the time the interval came round, the audience were audibly gagging for that brilliant track! And the first few notes caused some excitable stirring when they finally played... 



I am actually going to flip my usual review 'structure' (ha) on its head right now, and talk about the set of this show first. Because it was THAT GOOD. 

There wasn't just a set within a set - a massive base with a second level used as Raven's bedroom within Falco Tower - but also a screen upon which various scenes would be projected, shot live by professionals with cameras who followed actors around quietly onstage, which then became another bit of set when the screen fell and a rocky cave was revealed...!? Jon Bausor's designs are truly amazing. 




Then there was rocky terrain at the edges of the stage the actors would often jump and dance on, which obscured the band a bit (and apparently endangered the trumpet and cello players and conductor at one point...you'll have to see the show to understand that, I'm not spoiling!).

The lighting was also brilliant, and of course there was a fair bit of fire and flashing. I mean, how could there not be? 




I've written before about the specific, and often strange, crushes I develop when seeing productions, but this show had me head over heels for the entire cast. Strat (Andrew Polec) and Raven (Christina Bennington), the leads, were obviously high on my list - their scene serenading each other in her bedroom actually made me blush - but then Raven's parents Falco (Rob Fowler) and Sloane (Sharon Sexton) were also out-of-this-world gorgeous. Their sad, sexless union was hilarious to begin with, but by the end we the audience were all desperate for them to work it out. 

Then there was Tink, who was so damn cute...for the most part. I won't lie, I straight up hated his character at one specific point in the show. Although the understudy we saw in this production, Joseph Peacock (thanks for identifying him, Christina B!), was gorgeous - and so pure



Paris and I agreed; the leads were amazing and their chemistry was spot on...but when Zaharah (Danielle Steers) and Jagwire (Wayne Robinson) were onstage alongside them, they stole the show and then some

I was totally taken with Zahara the second she stepped onstage, but when she brought this enormous, hot and soulful voice seemingly right from the pit of her stomach, I swooned in my seat. Her scenes and songs with Jagwire were a definite highlight. 





Last but not least, the costumes were absolutely astonishing. I was in serious danger of being distracted from the dramatics now and again due to the outrageous outfits every cast member was sporting. My favourite might have to be Sloane, Raven's mama; she sparkled in sequins and then shocked in silk! (Excellent work, Bausor and Nielsen.)



This production is quite simply incredible. It's like nothing I've ever seen before in the West End. Maybe that's why it's won Best Musical at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, and why every seat was filled on a weeknight - that is, until the very end when every audience member leapt up to cheer, applaud and even sing a little, as the cast assembled to bow. 



WARNING: this show is not for the faint-hearted. It contains gunshot sound effects, strobe lighting, as well as flame and haze effects. Also, it's just generally LOUD and rockin' the whole way through.

Get your tickets now, at From the Box Office!

It's on Monday to Saturday at 7:30pm; 
additional shows Wednesday and Saturday at 2:30pm.

Follow the production on Instagram and Twitter!





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