Romeo and Juliet meets Peter Pan, meets Meatloaf is probably the best summary one can give of Bat Out Of Hell the musical. The plot is familiar and so is the music, and perhaps that’s what makes it such a fun and lovable show.
In what we can assume is a futuristic world just like our own a chemical leak has led to a portion of society remaining forever at the age of 18. This has caused a rivalry between the forever young and those still bitterly aging. Our Peter Pan archetype: Strat (Glenn Adamson) leads the Lost however becomes infatuated by young 18-year-old Raven (Martha Kirby) the unsatisfied daughter of our villain Falco (Rob Fowler) and his even more so unsatisfied wife Sloane (Sharon Sexton). Throughout we see Strat and Raven fight the odds to be together even with the disapproval of her tyrant father as well as the ups and downs of the fizzled out love between Falco and Sloane, all through the timeless music of Meatloaf.
Meat loaf’s music is the perfect soundtrack for a show depicting the complications of love, it’s power over people and how far we will go for it, however it is not the easiest to sing. This stellar cast seemed to have no issue however singing such difficult numbers. There is a such a phenomenal array of rich and impressive vocalists: Adamson has arguably some of the hardest numbers vocally in the whole show and he makes them seem effortless as he bounds around the stage. Fowler’s voice is very similar to the late Meatloaf, at times one could swear Meatloaf is singing on that stage too. The whole cast is stellar vocally however the real shout out deserves to go to the ladies: Joelle Moses (Zahara) has a perfect sultry deep voice that gives “Two out of three ain’t bad” a whole new sound. Leading Lady Kirby has a rock belt rarely seen in musical theatre trained actresses and Sexton was born to sing Meatloaf.
Visually in Bat Out Of Hell there’s a lot going on with the motor bikes rolling on stage on the regular, lighting rigs suspended in the air to resemble part of a crane in the cloudy skyline and most noticeably a very large TV screen on stage. Uniquely the production regularly has a camera man/woman filming the show live for it to be broadcast onto the large screen on stage. Whilst this at times can be quite distracting it is a very unusual and fun effect. In the song “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” the camera person films the song as if it’s an old-fashioned music video from the 80s which is entertaining and very effective. In other scenes Raven’s room is hidden behind a gauze so the camera allows us a look into the scene from the angles director Jay Scheib wants us to see.
Whilst this is not a flawless show: After all the plot is merely an instrument in what is essentially a Meatloaf tribute concert, plus the use of ensemble is questionable from time to time in some numbers (*cough cough* Paradise By The Dashboard Light) this is over all a really good show and perfect for any Meatloaf lovers out there. It has the music, the romance and of course Sexton’s perfect comedic delivery. What it not to love?
It should also be noted that Bat out of Hell is still a project production which has changed dramatically throughout its international run. If one has already seen the production else where it is most certainly worth coming and seeing the run again as there may be some quite significant changes. For example, the most recent West end production is quite different with added and removed scenes, a changing of who delivers Meatloaf’s iconic Wasted Youth monologue as well as a few other design and plot changes.
So, what are you waiting for? Get those tickets before like a bat out of hell they are gone gone gone….on the 19th February https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bat-out-of-hell/edinburgh-playhouse/
Reviewer: Beth Eltringham
Reviewed: 8th February 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★