REVIEW: Bat Out of Hell on the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Jim Steinman’s rip-roaring musical is tearing up cities throughout the UK earlier than its residence again in London’s West Finish in 2023. That includes the best hits of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf, this all-guns-blazing barrage of rock is just not for the faint-hearted.

Set to the music of the multi-million-selling album of the identical identify, this musical is loosely based mostly on the lynchpins of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan; ‘Loosely’ being the operative phrase. For these destined to witness this present, you’ll want to learn on as I try to untangle the plot of this present in as few sentences as potential.

Set in a post-‘chemical conflict’ metropolis which is now run by the trump-like Falco (Rob Fowler), the Misplaced Boys are a gaggle of underground dwellers frozen at 18 years outdated and helmed by their charismatic chief Strat (Glenn Adamson). When Falco’s daughter, Raven (Martha Kirby), falls in love with the leather-loving, chest-baring Strat, all hell breaks unfastened between the enterprising management freak Falco, and the rock ’n’ roll Misplaced Boys.

The vocal performances delivered by the corporate, particularly Adamson, Kirby, Fowler, and Sharon Sexton, are completely and unequivocally a number of the greatest I’ve ever heard. Supported brilliantly by the vocally proficient ensemble, the present depends on these piercing voices to carry this iconic music to life. The place this present falls down is within the work itself. With a plot as murky as a swamp, and much much less fascinating, it feels that these exemplary performers are doomed from the outset. The script is tough to decipher; is it purposefully wacky and tongue-in-cheek, or is the theatrical inexperience of Steinman the basis trigger? What can’t be denied is Jim Steinman’s potential to put in writing, however the guide of Bat Out of Hell lacks the pizzazz and storytelling that you just discover in his music work. The path fails on probably the most half to tug out the small nuggets of narrative which can be current, and so we’re left with a 5-star live performance wrapped in a 1-star story. The choreography on this present, tailored by Xena Gusthart, is one other alternative so as to add context to the story. As an alternative, a lot of it’s superfluous and infrequently takes away from in any other case unbelievable performances.

The set design from Jon Bausor works exhausting to painting the darkish and dingy world through which this manufacturing is about. The glass penthouse house of Flaco represents the outdated world, with the rubble and tunnels under a results of the chemical wars of yesterday. That is all paired with a superb video design from Finn Ross. While overused, the dwell video components projected across the stage allowed the viewers to stand up shut and private with particulars that in any other case could be missed, bringing the talents and element of tv to the stage. Patrick Woodroffe’s lighting harnesses rock as if this can be a stadium tour, and the manufacturing is all the higher for it.

This reveals faults lie past the management of the performers. Though the ensemble typically lacked the energy of characterisation and of motion that we come to count on in knowledgeable present, the entire firm labored exhausting and introduced the fabric to life nicely. Pairing these good voices with the songs of probably the most profitable albums in historical past provides you a successful system. However a few of these basic songs really feel shoe-horned into the work, which additional detracts from this outlandish manufacturing. With heart-thumping rock rumbling by means of the auditorium, it’s tough to not be in awe of this gargantuan present, nevertheless it wants extra than simply good musicians, songs, and vocalists to make it nice.

Evaluation by Max Topliss

Seat: C6 | Value of Ticket: £49.50