Bat Out Of Hell Review | Opera House | Manchester
With immense sets, intense choreography and a solid cast, Bat Out of Hell explodes onto the stage, dialling up the rock to eleven.
We follow a rebellious gang called the Lost who were left frozen in time in an underground cave filled with noxious gasses that altered the gangs DNA to no longer age. The 2017 jukebox musical layers its dystopian prison plot against 70/80s hits from Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf, and while this story is exactly what you would expect from a musical pegged as a futuristic rock version of Peter Pan, it is spectacularly fun.
Having first opened in Manchester, the time capsule show is back with a tour dedicated to its writer Steinman who passed away in April of this year. His long-wished-for passion project is a ball of energy and strobe lighting as its underground party production plays out hits including Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Dead Ringer For Love. Considering the average Meat Loaf single spans 7-8 minutes long, this production moves swiftly as it edits its popular tracks to place alongside its Peter Pan plotline. Although it is not your run of the mill, futuristic rock opera, this show falls in a similar vein to We Will Rock You (2002), scooping up lovers of rock and dystopian futures. However, Bat Out of Hell is drenched in audacious performances that embellish the familiar songs with passionate choreography and impressive visuals.
The actual production gets straight to the meat and potatoes of the plot, bypassing much of the vampiresque understanding of its nightmarish new world to focus on its lead, Strat’s childlike whimsy and Glenn Adamson’s dramatic performance of the eccentric and boisterous leader of the Lost (boys). Without laying down much of the developed story, the plot is relayed almost entirely through its assortment of songs and projections which portray its leads two worlds apart. The shows direction and choreography overshadow its tale but audiences requesting a live concert of Steinman and Meat Loaf’s greatest hits will not be disappointed.
When Strat falls in love with straight-talking Raven (Martha Kirby), daughter of a tyrannical ruler living in Falco towers, all rock breaks loose as he is determined to claim his love and freedom at any price. Director Jay Scheib stages the Opera House with a busy two-tiered set, placing cameras, projections and dancers on both levels to ensure that you will be entertained in any seat in the house. The show makes fantastic use of its technology, sprawling its huge cast against evolving screened images to give depth to their underground world. The musical also places a lone cameraperson to zoom in on Raven in her bedroom for an intimate, 80s style MTV performance.
It's an elegiac future, but this gritty, underground gang know how to dance, high kick and mosh in heels. As invaluable lessons in life and love are performed by the Lost, the entertaining performances of its cast are combined with some kick-ass choreography and bootyful costumes. With bedazzled dresses and bralettes, leather shorts and shirtless, or very soon to be shirtless gang members that wrap up this tribute to rock with vigour.
Bat Out of Hell is a full-on guilty pleasure but if you are a fan of its tracks, it is a show you do not want to see pass by in the rear-view of your Harley.