Bat Out of Hell – The Musical

Yet again Susy Brett attended another Press night this time at the Dominion Theatre for Bat Out Of Hell. Read on to see if two out of three wasn’t bad (see the pun?) or did Susy score it higher?

The epic rock musical centred around the iconic Meat Loaf album, Bat Out of Hell, has returned to the West End at the Dominion Theatre.

Originally imagined as a rock retelling of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, Bat Out of Hell takes place in a post-apocalyptic city known as Obsidian. It tells the love story of Strat (Andrew Polec), a mutant teenager who will never grow old, and Raven (Christina Bennington), the young heiress to the city’s tyrannical ruler. However, their romance seems doomed as Strat’s gang of forever 18-year-olds are considered a threat and Raven’s father Falco (Rob Fowler) will do everything in his power to keep them apart.

From the jump start opening, it’s clear Bat Out of Hell the musical is going to be special. Scene after scene, the show knocks it out of the park with energetic musical numbers, astonishing set pieces and technical mastery. It is a rock experience on maximum setting. It will be too intense and be overstimulating for some audiences. For others, it is purely epic. It seems fitting that it now resides in the former home of We Will Rock You, another impressive jukebox rock musical with a similarly bizarre narrative. Bat Out of Hell, however, is a better musical – modern, vibrant and powerful. This is a musical of the present and it is on fire. Sometimes literally.

One thing that is immediately apparent is the actors look like they’re having the time of their lives, high on the energy of the show. Andrew Polec gives it his all as Strat, in a strong performance. His rendition of Meat Loaf classic I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) is simply electrifying. Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton are well matched as the warring and somewhat eccentric parents of Raven. There’s a fire in their scenes together make them tremendous fun to watch whenever they’re on stage. The real stand out is Danielle Steers as Zahara. Her intense and emotional voice is mesmerising.

In terms of musical numbers, this is rocker heaven. All one’s favourite Meat Loaf numbers are here. They don’t necessarily make sense, but it’s hard to care when there are fireworks and cars and explosions. The band here are phenomenal (and even make a surprise guest appearance on stage in one memorable moment) and should be commended. Bat Out of Hell does incredibly well to recreate the energy of a real live rock concert.

In any other show, the stunning use of multimedia would be the main talking point. Bat Out of Hell achieved things I have never seen in a show of this scale, with beautiful projection work and the use on on-stage  camera. To do this at the fast-pace of the story and musical numbers is impressive. In one scene there is a recreation of a baseball game. In others, characters are projected onto entire walls – which when considering the Dominion’s size looks tremendous.

Despite the fact that, as the programme claims, the Meat Loaf album was originally conceived as a musical, the story still seems jumbled together to make the songs fit. The plot is far from nuanced and very little time is spent developing interesting characters, with Raven’s Bella Swann-style vibe and dialogue somewhat cringeworthy (though actress Christina Bennington puts in a good performance with what she is given). None of this really seems to matter however, if one considers this show more of a rock concert than a true musical.

Bat Out of Hell is booking now at the Dominion Theatre.
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