Thursday, February 29

Bat Out of Hell – New Wimbledon Theatre

The award-winning musical ‘Bat Out of Hell’ revved its way into The New Wimbledon Theatre. Multiple hits rolled into one action packed musical that will get you on your feet by the end of the night, with hit songs from Jim Steinman and Meatloaf.

This musical tells the story of the main characters Raven the daughter of Falco, and Strat who fall in love against family wishes. Strat is the leader of The Lost, a group of teenagers that never grow up. The reasoning behind The Lost never growing up was never quite explained in detail, however, shows a remarkable resemblance to The Lost Boys in ‘Peter Pan’ giving the audience familiarity in a childhood favourite story with a dystopian take. There are multiple subplots thought the show supporting the overarching love story with Ravens parents and the complicated relationships within the Lost Boys.

The set was thought out with the use of cameras and a large billboard to show the events happening around various points of the set, some of these sequences particularly the ones inside Ravens room had viewers darting back and forth to see the two perspectives and really separated the bedroom from the rest of the stage. The set and video designers (Jon Bausor and Finn Ross) deserve recognition for their work. Some of the camera work felt a bit unnecessary and the presence of a camera operator on stage took away from the performance.

The entire cast portrayed their characters superbly and carried outstanding vocals throughout, specifically the song ‘Heaven Can Wait’ sung by the main character Raven played by Martha Kirby and the whole company singing ‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ a fan favourite. Some noticeable company members throughout the show include Kellie Gnauck, Killian Thomas, Lefevre, Jamie Jukes, James Lowrie and Beth Woodcock. The whole Ensemble all had their moments to shine and really showed their vocal ability, which humanises there characters further and tells us a little of their stories and progression throughout the show.

My personal favourite characters were Falco and Sloane played by Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton who had great stage chemistry. The characters allowing the audience to feel their yearning for their youth and loathing for one another, as well as how much they crave the young love from their past throughout the song ‘Paradise by The Dashboard Light’. The duo repeatedly broke the fourth wall between the stage and the audience to create a comedic effect, one of these funny moments being when Falco sanitised his hands after shaking hands with the character Tink.

The lighting design created by Patrick Woodroffe really set the rock and roll theme of the show, with a wide range of colours and moving lights used to help bring the songs and story line to life. The use of a single white light added extra detail to the tunnel and the clever use of the LEDs on the set when a guitar was being played allowed the instruments to come to life in front of you. The show also had a lot of strobe lighting, which is a classic feature found in most rock concerts.  

My biggest criticism is that the story starts off strong in act one but after the interval the story line becomes lost and turns into a rock concert, leaving you with questions once the bows are over. Most people come to see this show to hear the beloved songs written by Meatloaf and Jim Steinman, but the story still needs an ending to wrap everything up. This could be improved by taking the songs in Act Two and weaving them into the storyline a bit better, so the audience are still receiving the songs they came for in a theatrical setting, but the ending isn’t as abrupt.

Overall, the lack of an ending to the show is compensated by the talent and skill of the cast, band and crew, to bring the audience a night of entertainment and music people know and love. The cast concluded the production with a tribute performance to remember Jim Steinman, which got everyone up on their feet and dancing while chanting for more.

Bat Out of Hell continues at the New Wimbledon until 29th January

Reviewer: Chloe Stallibrass

Reviewed: 18th January 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★