Writers: Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming
Music and Lyrics: Lawrence O’Keefe
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
Durham University Light Opera Group return to Edinburgh after last year’s Hot Mikado with “mocky-horror extravaganza” – Bat Boy. Writers Brian Flemming and Keythe Farley took as their inspiration a salacious Weekly World News headline and created this tale of small town prejudice and the fight for acceptance.
I’m sure you can probably begin to imagine what to expect from a musical with songs entitled: Another Dead Cow, Ugly Boy, More Blood and Apology to a Cow. But when you add into the mix: an ambitious gun-toting sheriff; some highly suggestible, small-minded locals; a whole heap of Baptist revivalists; bat pheromones and a Pagan wedding you get, quite possibly, the most unhinged musical ever written.
The staging is by necessity simple at the Fringe, so the vocals and the acting really have to shine. There is much opportunity in this show to ham it up, but to their credit the actors resist the temptation and deliver some well-judged performances. In particular the actresses playing Mrs. Parker and the hot-pant clad Sheriff show tremendous range and vocal subtlety and Mr. Parker had a beautifully toned voice.The actor playing Bat Boy also deserves praise for the convincingly real physicality he showed playing the feral teen. On the downside the ensemble were seriously underpowered and looked unconvincing and uncommitted at times and it didn’t help that they were often drowned out by the too-loud band.
Despite the stereotypes and the craziness, this is fundamentally a tale of a young boy struggling to fit in, and what elevates it above schlock-horror sensationalism is the fact that the characters are realised with affection. But be warned if you’re offended by cross-dressing, incest, serial killing, faith-healing or just plain campness then this ain’t the show for you. If not go along and enjoy the sheer 50’s B-Movie madness of it all.