London Theatre Review: Bat Out of Hell
Posted on 12 December 2018
It wasn’t until reading the programme notes that I learned the iconic album, Bat out of Hell, was originally written and conceived as a musical. In the 1970s, when no one produced the show, the album was recorded that went to sell half a million copies a week at its peak. The music has now come full circle and the show has been fully realised as a musical and is now on its second outing in the West End.
As the music was written for a musical it seems wrong to call this show a jukebox musical but it is one almost by default. It also suffers the same fate as some jukebox musicals in that the plot is very thin and the production does go for style over substance at times. While based loosely on Peter Pan, the story feels old and clichéd at times.
There is no doubt, this show is a spectacle. With huge set pieces, artistic projection, fire, motorbikes and more, there is certainly a lot to look at. Sometimes this becomes a little overwhelming and there is too much going on to follow a coherent story.
What this show does offer is concert quality music and singing. The powerhouse performances from the actors and the orchestra blow the doors off the Dominion giving you a hybrid between rock concert and musical theatre – oddly, it works.
When the show had a run at the Coliseum last year it was variously described as being so bad it was good, bonkers, and a stroke of genius. I think the show is divisive and separates those who love Meatloaf’s music and want to get as close as they can to seeing and hearing him perform and those who enjoy plot-driven shows.