Review – Bat Out of Hell – Dominion Theatre

Saturday 14 April 2018

This was the week that probably had you wondering what Olivier Awards host Catherine Tate had done to wrong her stylist that they’d wrought such a terrible revenge. And why the shouty and seemingly underprepared host banged on about Time’s Up and then introduced Ronan Keating in a manner that had it been a man introducing a woman would have seen him booed off the stage. How very dare she.

And now you’re probably thinking, mmmm Bat Out of Hell that’s not very Whingerish is it? And apart from it being a musical you’d probably be right. We’ve never really been aficionados of Meat Loaf’s back catalogue or ever felt the need to release our inner rocksters for that matter. And yet, and yet, ever since its premiere in Manchester and run at the Coliseum last year we’ve had this slightly batty feeling that we really shouldn’t miss out.

You need only worry about the plot if you attempt to follow it. Low flying bats were on hand to scratch our heads should we need them. We did our best. To save you time worrying, it’s something of a love story set in a (yawn) dystopian future. A post-apocalyptic Manhattan now named Obsidian apparently (all the Dominion’s seats have an Obsidian Times newspaper left on them). A lad from a group of oppressed youths Strat (understudy Simon Gordon, we think, as the ex teacher of Strat’s other understudy, Jordan Luke Gage, was in our entourage but being a bit vague), falling for Raven (Christina Bennington – excellent), who is squirrelled away in her super rich daddy’s skyscraper which is a a bit Rapunzelly. When kids reach 18 their DNA freezes so they never age. Oh and one of them is called Tink (Alex Thomas-Smith). A bit Peter Panny. Raven will grow old but Strat won’t. A bit Twilight Zoney. Got that?

Raven’s father, Falco is performed by the convincingly swaggering  Rob Fowler who apparently trained in mechanics for historic Formula 1 cars which seems as good a preparation for the world of musical theatre as any and “in 2008 starred in the Austrian romantic TV comedy series Ex”. How many Austrian romantic TV comedy series there are remains a mystery to us and beggars the questions how and why? Sharon Sexton as his wife Sloane deserves special mention for not only resembling Philomena Cunk but managing to negotiate the stage’s rake in her vertiginous boots. Danielle Steers deserves cheers for her Cher-like vocalising. All are splendid.

Did we mention that Jay Scheib‘s production is very loud? Well, of course is it given the Meat Loaf provenance. And that’s ok except that you can’t hear what the hell they’re singing about much of the time and this is a shame as as the songs are smarter and wittier than we’d bothered to suppose. Jim Steinman‘s big hits are all in there, “Dead Ringer for Love”, “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth”, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”, the title track of course and the unknown to Phil but brilliantly titled “Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”.

Jon Bausor‘s full on dystopian design combined with Finn Ross’ video is fantastic, the use of on stage camera operators shows Network how they can enhance the visuals rather than take over from them. And even though the motorcycles are a bit pedestrian (haven’t they seen the flying ship/double decker/vespa in the Palladium pantos?) there are nice touches throughout. Phil particularly appreciated a “burning” billboard, a good orchestra pit gag and the blowing up of a motorcycle displaying a touch of genius that is worth the price of admission alone, or maybe not if you’ve forked out for one of the £175 seats – no wonder there were a lot of gaps in the stalls.

The whole shebang has a knowing sense of its own absurdity because, despite the rock star posturing, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nine of our party of ten (including Andrew seeking his inner rock chick) nodded approvingly rather than nodding off. Only one complained of a headache.

Bats.

Rating: 4 out of 5 ain’t bad..

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3 Responses to “Review – Bat Out of Hell – Dominion Theatre”


  1. I am frankly appalled that – as a 70 year-old wunderkind and composer of most of the world’s greatest showtunes – this review at no point references me or my back catalogue. Let me remind you that I wrote The Beautiful Game, Stephen Ward and By Jeeves. I’m also a Lord.

    • tenshialpha Says:

      There was one line in the Bat show in previews last year – “If only are the loneliest words you’ll ever know”, but ALW forced Steinman to remove it because it’s a line he previously used in Whistle Down The Wind. Happy now?

  2. katsonstage Says:

    No no no! This was atrocious claptrap. Pomp rock at its worst. It’ll probably run and bloody run *sigh*


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