REVIEW: BAT OUT OF HELL (New Wimbledon Theatre)

When you think of Meatloaf, you probably don’t automatically think of musical theatre. And yet, Meatloaf is just one artist whose songs have been further immortalised on stage. Whether or not they should is another matter…

The story of Bat out of Hell is weak. Similar to We Will Rock You, it struggles to create a believable plot that works with Meatloaf’s back catalogue; in fact, it’s a hybrid of Peter Pan meets Jesus Christ Superstar. We even have a character called Tink!

The action takes place – we assume – in the near future, where man’s destruction continues to wreak havoc. We meet The Lost, a group of teenagers forever stuck at the age of 18. Living away from everyone else, they are brooding adolescents who do not shy away from danger. Or excitement.

Yet, despite the lack of story, Bat out of Hell is a fun show. This is testament to the talent of the late, great Meatloaf and the energy that his songs contain. From heavy rock anthems to slower ballads, each one provides a different kind of thrill.

The cast is excellent. Martha Kirby is fantastic as Raven: at first girlish and naive, we see her develop into an independent woman who is determined to live her life. Her vocal range is incredible and the chemistry between her and Strat (Glenn Adamson) is genuine.

James Chisholm (Jagwire) has a beautiful voice and his stage presence is commanding yet hopeful; the moments between him and Joelle Moses (Zahara) are some of the most tender in the whole production. Their duets are incredible as Moses’ voice is also superb – I’d love to see this pair work together again in the future and applaud David Grindrod on his impeccable casting.

Sound, set and lighting provide the perfect surround for the cast, and overall it is a great production. While the story itself leaves a lot to be desired, audiences are there for the songs and the spectacle. And that’s what they get.

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes