Review(ish): Not A Book. A Show
Things I don’t review: everything else. Like theatre shows.
That’s just a thing, I just don’t ever. Mostly because I can talk about books and what I like and don’t like and not look like a dick, or if I do look like a dick (which I might) then I don’t really care that much because I’m confident enough about what I do and don’t like and what I do and don’t know to throw my opinions out there in the general direction of The Internets and not be all that bothered whether anyone else agrees.
When it comes to anything else though I’m not sure I can get beyond ‘yes nice I like it’ and ‘yak 0/10 do not recommend’ and so I just…don’t. Hush. I see you there, reading this at your computer screen eyebrows raised quizzically and wondering what, actually, I am talking about because all of these words, do they even have a point?
No, actually not so much, except that last night I went to the theatre with my Mum and my general response was ‘yes nice I like it’ and here I am, throwing that little pearl of wisdom in the general direction of The Internets mostly because this show is a new show and things that are new and good deserve some love.
I love the theatre. I have always loved the theatre and before I loved the theatre I loved musicals. I’m talking a childhood love of Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Calamity Jane and My Fair Lady and Guys and Dolls. I’m talking about seeing Joseph on stage when I was still at primary school. I’m talking about seeing Joseph in the West End. I’m talking about Wicked on Broadway and about Cabaret and Matilda and Cats and Les Mis and Funny Girl and The Bodyguard and We Will Rock You and Priscilla and Betty Blue Eyes and Kinky Boots and Jesus Christ Superstar and Little Shop of Horrors and Phantom and The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q and so on and so forth ad infinitum. I’m talking about my best friend as Lina Lamont in Singing in the Rain. And today I’m talking about Bat Out of Hell: The Musical.
I grew up listening to Meat Loaf, if you wondered. Any of his hits come on the radio or get played in the pub or whatever and I can (I do) sing along word for word because somehow you just can’t not, you know? Bat of Hell is a bit like Bohemian Rhaspody: you can’t not belt it out whenever you hear it, belt it out loud and like you really mean it. I went last night at my Mum’s suggestion – the reason I grew up listening to Meat Loaf was her. I won’t lie; if she hadn’t wanted to see it then it probably wouldn’t have ever crossed my mind to go which, well, that in itself is probs a bit nuts because I love me a good rock opera. Why did I ever doubt that this would be a thing I approved of? Anyhow, there it is: I just wouldn’t have gone and I don’t mind telling you that actually I may have been a little apprehensive about the whole thing. Today though I LAUGH IN THE FACE OF MY APPREHENSION because it was so good. So good.
We had one of those lovely lovely days you know – a coffee and a quick look round the shops, food out at a lush restaurant and a glass of wine (her) and a mocktail (me – driving) and then the show and apart from a minor (almost massively major) panic when she realised she’d totally left the tickets at home it was just….lush.
Mum: I’ve forgotten the tickets.
Mum: no, really.
Mum: Jo. I don’t have the tickets.
Me: Oh. Well…shit. Put your seatbelt back on then, we shall drive like a bat out of hell.
(see what I did there)
Anyway we rang the theatre and talked to a nice boy and thanks to the wonder of the smartphone I had the email confirmation and ALL WAS NOT LOST. But still, it was tense there for like, a full 3 minutes. I don’t deal well with tense. Thank the Lord for Starbucks is all I can say because holy moly I needed to be caffeinated. There is no drama like forgotten ticket drama*
Anyway the show is excellent, one of those shows that you kind of expect to be awesome as soon as you sit down because the stage has no curtain and there’s a massive motorbike and a smashed up guitar on the stage and television screens with things like ‘The year is 2100…’ playing on them in a scene setting fashion and you’re engaged before you’ve even taken off your coat.
It opens with the main protagonist, Strat, delivering this monologue that gives you all the goosebumps and I glanced at Mum in that way you do when you’re really hoping somebody is having a nice time – like when you’ve made them sit down to watch your favourite film and you know a really good bit is coming and you try subtly to watch their face so as to gauge their reaction – and she had this smile on her face and I just thought yes. From there, from that powerful opening monologue onwards it was a spectacle, all flashing lights and pyrotechnics and smoke and all these excellent interpretations of songs you already know. It was well acted and well sung and well choreographed and the set was amazing. Also the cast: SO GOOD. The guy and girl who took the parts of Strat and Raven especially blew my mind.
It was rock and roll.
It was Peter Pan does rock and roll (post apocalyptic future; city ruled by bad guy; gang of kinds living underground, calling themselves The Lost with a mutation that means they’ll never grow up; their leader in love with the Bad Guy’s daughter – and tell me you know the whole Captain Hook is Wendy’s Dad theory, right?; a character actually called Tink.) This was Neverland like you’ve never seen it before and I was totally sold. You know I love a good reinterpretation.
AND there was a reprise of Bat Out of Hell for the curtain call and I sang along word for word because how could I not.
*probably there is.