Bat Out of Hell – New Wimbledon Theatre, London

Reviewer: Elle Elizabeth

Book, Music and Lyrics: Jim Steinman

Director: Jay Scheib

Inspired by the iconic rock ballads of Jim Steinman and Meatloaf, Bat Out of Hell is a Romeo and Juliet style love story between rebel teens, Strat and Raven. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Strat and other members of ‘The Lost’ are doomed to remain 18 for eternity, living at the bottom of society in the tunnels of the city of Obsidian. One night during a riot, Strat meets the daughter of the tyrannical ruler of Obsidian, Raven, and the pair immediately fall in love. As these things go, the star-crossed lovers face many obstacles on their path to a happy ending, conveniently setting up the perfect opportunity to belt some Steinman and Meatloaf hits.

Glenn Adamson as Strat creates a beautifully tormented version of the rebel leader. His portrayal is wildly romantic and very Rock and Roll. Adamson boasts flawless vocals, enchanting the audience with his rendition of the classics, most notably the titular song which sets up the most astounding pre-interval climax. Strat and Raven (Martha Kibry) have undeniable romantic chemistry. Their interactions are drenched in sexual tension and Kirby’s Raven is beautifully innocent yet rebellious with a chaotic energy that leaves the audience gripped by curiosity for what she might say or do next. Not to be outdone by her leading man, Kirby floors the audience with her take on the iconic It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, which has been beautifully directed to blend the voices of both Raven and Strat (Adamson and Kirby) as well as supporting characters, Falco and Sloane (Rob Fowler, Sharon Sexton).

Having both originated their roles Fowler and Sexton provide many laugh out loud moments as Falco and Sloane. The chemistry between the pair easily convinces theatre goers of the couple’s turbulent relationship and they convey their feelings of resentment and frustration well. Their ability to honestly and comedically portray the spiralling of a once blissful union creates a stark contrast to the budding romance of young lovers Strat and Raven and inspires the audience to root for the protagonists’ love story. Not only do Fowler and Sexton provide comedic relief but they also bless the audience with some seriously powerful duets and feisty duologues. It is no wonder that both actors gained some serious praise when they first took on these roles.

The one downfall of this production is the execution of the storyline. This new musical is, at times, hard to follow and audience members would do well to have a quick read of the story before the show starts. It is easy to get lost and details are missed in establishing the backstory. It is, however, not necessary to understand the intricate workings of the plot to enjoy what is essentially an opportunity to revel in stunningly delivered renditions of some of the greatest rock songs of all time.

Supporting the musical score, the visuals of this production are astounding and very much in keeping with the rock and roll genre. The costumes (designed by Jon Bausor) feature a lot of leather, glitter and fishnet tights with each being individual to their character. The set, also designed by Bausor, is unique with a split-level stage, balcony and moving motorbike. Without giving too much away, there is also an interesting and decidedly clever use of live filming and projecting (Finn Ross). This is accompanied by great lighting design and visual effects (Patrick Woodroffe) which particularly help to build up the final number of act one.

This touring production is full of the energy of rock n’ roll and will surely not disappoint any fans of the classic soundtrack. There isn’t a single weak link within the cast and many supporting members of the ensemble get the chance to prove this, showcasing their own powerful vocals and electric dance moves in some of the most iconic numbers featured in the show. The love story is an age-old classic, but the music makes this production exciting and original.

Runs until 29 January and touring

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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