Theatre Reviews

Bat out of Hell: A confusing storyline but with great Meat Loaf songs

For any die-hard Meat Loaf fan, the West End production of Jim Steinman’s rock musical is a must-see but be warned, the narrative is somewhat confusing.

Book, music, lyrics: Jim Steinman

Director: Jay Schieb

Starring: Andrew Polec, Christina Bennington, Rob Fowler, Sharon Sexton, Alex Thomas-Smith, Danielle Steers

Running time: 2hrs 40mins

Theatre: Dominion Theatre, London

Although I have walked passed the Dominion Theatre in London countless times, my eyes never paid much attention to the production of Meat Loaf’s iconic album Bat out of Hell.

It wasn’t until my parents were visiting that they were determined to see the show and I was more than happy to accompany (and have my ticket paid for) them.

While sitting in the theatre, my eyes were immediately drawn to the motorbike on stage surrounded by rocks and rubble.

For anyone who has listened once – or multiple times – to Meat Loaf’s 1977 album, the motorbike on stage does not come as much of shock but my mind was going round and round about what the narrative could possibly be.

It wasn’t until the show started that I was lost. The narrative focuses on a post-apocalyptic world where a group of people (zombies?) do not age passed 18.

Why this was the decided narrative I could not say, but there were times where I found myself lost in the dance routines and songs and couldn’t fully understand what the story was about.

Nonetheless, the show was really quite enjoyable. It could have easily been a different narrative but the way it was staged and the songs of choice were perfect for the cast and the unusual storyline.

Growing up, my parents would often play Meat Loaf’s amazing 1977 album – featuring the hit songs such as I Would Do Anything For Love (I Won’t Do That), Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad and the titular track Bat out of Hell – so I already knew some of the songs.

However, there were some that I have never heard before – or ones I had forgotten – such as Objects in the Rear View Mirror and after watching the show it has become one of my favourite songs.

The production was both enjoyable, funny but also moving – with my dad even admitting there were times he found it emotional.

The cast were also perfectly matched for their roles.

Although I didn’t particularly like the two main characters Strat (Polec) and Raven (Bennington), they didn’t fail to give a stunning performance in their respective roles.

And, in all honesty, Bennington’s performance of Heaven Can Wait was one of the best performances in the show.

However, I’ve got to praise both Steers and Patrick Sullivan – who was the understudy for this performance – in the supporting – but still important – roles of Zahara and Jagwire.

Their performance of Two out of Three Ain’t Bad was really one of the best songs in the show – and one of my favourites from the album.

Steers did have the best voice in the show and there were times were I pondered why she wasn’t in the lead role but she fitted her character perfectly.

One thing that surprised me about the production was the introduction of a gay character.

When you think of Meat Loaf you think of butch bikers but the inclusion of the gay character Tink (Thomas-Smith) really brought the production to contemporary times.

There were also same-sex dance partners, whether that was intentional or not, it was still nice to see a show incorporating LGBT characters.

Although the narrative was confusing, the second half was much more engaging and interesting than the first.

The song choices seemed to fit the narrative a little bit more and there was more of a story – but it was still confusing!

The show was still a great production and I am glad to say I have seen it again. Would I see it again? Maybe not but that being said, I would be telling a lie if I said I haven’t listened to the soundtrack once or twice!

Judging from the audience’s reaction they all loved the show – even so far that one older man was told off for trying to record part of the show (what an idiot!)

Meat Loaf fans will definitely love the show but make sure you pay close attention, even now, I cannot really describe the narrative…

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