‘I still love it’: BAT OUT OF HELL – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

Dominion Theatre, London – until 27 October 2018

In a remarkably quick return after its Coliseum outing, Jim Steinman’s barmy musical is storming onto the Tottenham Court Road, rocking on. Few cast changes – we still have the rockstarry Andrew Polec, a fair curly-headed manic figure looking like Fotherington-Thomas gone to the dark side, and Christina Bennington as the rebellious Raven; we still have the choreography by Emma Portner and the rowdy, explosive, shape-shifting set by Jon Bausor. And it’s even louder than at the Coliseum.

I still love it but it has been brought to my notice that some critical voices I respect really don’t like it. So here are a few reasons I do:

  • Because Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton are hilarious as the heroine’s parents, first in their furious ‘Who Needs the Young’ song, then unforgettably in the onstage Cadillac rendering of ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’. Surely you gotta love a youthy rock gig where the middle-aged steal the scene?
  • Because Danielle Steers delivers ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ in something approximating a solid gold blues baritone.
  • Because of the bit where the motorbike explodes.
  • Because Jim Steinman’s lyrics are among the best expressions of rock‘n’roll rebellion ever written while managing to be ironic with it.
  • Because of the ensemble movement. Wild yet daft.
  • And the plot: plain daft, based on Peter Pan while remaining the least J.M. Barrie show imaginable.
  • Because come on –  if you’re going to do a ridiculous jukebox musical, the city which has embraced the vapidly ghastly Mamma Mia! for years on end deserves a better break.
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Libby Purves
Libby Purves was theatre critic for The Times from 2010 to 2013. Determined to continue her theatre commentary after losing that job, she set up her own site www.theatrecat.com in October 2013. She personally reviews all major London openings, usually with on-the-night publication, and also gives voice to a new generation of critics with occasional guest 'theatrekittens'. In addition to her theatre writing and myriad other credits, Libby has been a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek for over 30 years. She is also the author of a dozen novels, and numerous non-fiction titles. In 1999, Libby was appointed an OBE for services to journalism.
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Libby Purves on RssLibby Purves on Twitter
Libby Purves
Libby Purves was theatre critic for The Times from 2010 to 2013. Determined to continue her theatre commentary after losing that job, she set up her own site www.theatrecat.com in October 2013. She personally reviews all major London openings, usually with on-the-night publication, and also gives voice to a new generation of critics with occasional guest 'theatrekittens'. In addition to her theatre writing and myriad other credits, Libby has been a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek for over 30 years. She is also the author of a dozen novels, and numerous non-fiction titles. In 1999, Libby was appointed an OBE for services to journalism.

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