LET ME start by adding my own homage to the originator of this show, the late Jim Steinman to whom this tour is dedicated – like so many devotees of his work I’ve sung along at the top of my voice to his classics on many a car journey.
The evenings’ excitement began outside, where the excellent Alex PR team had invited a chapter or three of bikers to circumnavigate the theatre as we queued to get our Covid passes checked. The roar of Harley throttle and the smell of gasoline on the crisp winter air was indeed a legendary welcome.
As the audience enter the auditorium, we spy biker boys and girls dotted around designer Jon Bausor’s huge wall-to-wall set. There are rocks, a tunnel, movie screens and an impressive glass-fronted house perched stage left – through which we can see a bedroom and more.
The house lights go and MD Robert Emery strikes up the band. Except we don’t get the opening number straight away, rather a spotlight on the heroine, Raven, who delivers a hard-core eulogy about how she tried to kill her father with a Fender Stratocaster.
As if you didn’t know it, this is a prelude in a rock ‘n’ roll tale at its broadest sense.
In fact – as I told myself at the interval – don’t try to look for the plot to make sense, especially common sense – there’s nothing common about Steinman’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’ and why, the only sense is adorable nonsense.
The story – such as it is – is a mash- up of Peter Pan and Romeo and Juliet with a bit of Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty thrown in – all set in some crazy post-pocalyptic world where Raven escapes down a tunnel to hook up with the lost boys.
Martha Kirby who plays Raven has oodles of presence plus a delectable voice to take us with her on her journey.
Her travelling companion is Pan – or rather Strat – played by the charismatic Glenn Adamson.
Meanwhile back at the house SL the powerful Rob Fowler as Falco and vivacious Sharon Sexton as Sloane tell their own story of loves labour’s lost (to steal a well known early rock ‘n’ roll phrase).
This is a large, hard-working company directed affectionately by Jay Scheib and with energetic choreography from Xena Gusthart.
The stand out performance for me from a highly talented general company was Samuel Pope as Hoffman – great voice and magnetism.
Story aside, what we all came to see and hear are the Meatloaf classics and they just keep coming. We were, of course; ‘Dead Ringers for Love’ and ‘For Crying Out Loud’ ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me’ and ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’.
Come the walkdown, we got an impassioned speech from Falco to spread the word that theatre is back – I thought to myself “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth” – we’re all in this together, theatre lovers!
If you’re jabbed take your seats and let’s rock ‘n’ roll away those fears. This bat may have come out of hell but I guarantee it’s heaven sent all the way.
Bat Out Of Hell runs at the Alexandra Theatre until January 15. Click here for times, tickets and more information.
Review by Euan Rose.