A racing heartbeat, goosebumps all over your arms and happy, happy tears… If you’ve ever been to the theatre then you will understand the emotional rollercoaster that some clever lighting and great songs can take you on. London’s West End is renowned for its ability to put on a spectacle, to raise the roof and to inspire tears in the hardest of people.
And it just got better.
All you Meatloaf fans out there will already know the prickly-skin reaction to these numbers. But even those who have never cared much for Meatloaf will love this show (trust me – I’m one of them). The songs were made for the stage: his music is so operatic, with an overarching theme of ‘love conquers all’ that suits the theatre so well.
We open the show intimately, considering the venue’s grandeur. The London Coliseum’s stage is littered with broken technology, dusty New York memorabilia and what looks like radioactive waste. Our eyes are drawn to the motorbike – what else did you expect? It’s Meatloaf – and five minutes before the show starts, members of the cast sidle on and chat together, fixing up the bike and wandering about as if they aren’t going to mess with your emotions and blow your socks off solidly for two hours.
Bat Out of Hell follows Strat, the leader of a gang of outcasts known as The Lost, despised by the rest of society due to a virus or gene (it’s never fully examined) that halts their ageing process at 18. They live in a dystopian Manhattan, now called Obsidian, under the tyranny of Falco. Strat falls for Falco’s daughter Raven, and chaos, of course, ensues. The story could be a little more detailed, as it feels like some parts are not properly wrapped up, but it’s not really about the plot – it plays more like a concert.
Andrew Polec delivers the opening dialogue with hauntingly poetic tones. His voice is uniquely beautiful whether singing or speaking. He occupies the stage like a rock band’s frontman (go and watch the YouTube videos of West End Live 2017 and see if he reminds you of Freddy Mercury at Wembley), leaping, stamping and whirling around like a tornado. Throughout the show we are charmed by his glittering eyes and sardonic grin: life is a game to Strat, and Polec is only too happy to play.
The rest of the cast are a dream, with villains Falco and Sloane (Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton) standing out as marvellous comic relief and sinister sadists all at once. The wonderful thing about this show is that no one is really good or bad, everyone has their reasons for acting the way they act, and love is the thing that wins out in the end.
Danielle Steers is spine-tingling as Zahara: we could listen to her rendition of Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad all day. She is funny too, and you’d be hard-pressed to take your eyes off her whenever she’s onstage: there is just something electrifying about her.
Christina Bennington has a fabulous voice and her version of It’s All Coming Back to Me Now is the perfect way to showcase her pipes. Unfortunately her character, Raven, is somewhat wet, but Bennington does a great job with what she is given. Hopefully Raven’s character will be more fleshed out and likeable once the show returns to the UK – which we are praying it will. (It’s rumoured to be coming to the Dominion on Tottenham Court Road in 2018, where the similarly rebellious We Will Rock You once ruled.)
Just how good was this show?
Well, consider a standing ovation at the interval. Consider a standing ovation at the interval at a matinee. If you haven’t seen it, the last London show is Tuesday 22nd August, and both times I’ve been, there have been £25 tickets available on the day, so give it a try. If there were ever a show worth paying for, it’s this one. Alternatively, it’s going to Manchester extremely briefly and then they’re heading to Toronto.
(How much does a plane ticket cost- NO EMMA. NO.)
It has been a long time since a show has taken me on such a ride. I hope as many people as possible get the chance to see this stunning piece of theatre before it ends, and I eagerly await the soundtrack. Until then, I’ll be dancing in my room to the actual Meatloaf songs, because this show has got me ‘all revved up’!