LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
The imagery is Wagnerian apocalyptic: flame-throwing motorcycles, explosions, postmodern valkyries in tattered leather and squalling electric guitars. Steinman clearly does not believe in half-measures and if the tender love story at Bat Out Of Hell’s heart gets a bit bruised in the process then it is a price worth paying.
If you get the sense the story is pretty much Peter Pan dirtied up with elements of The Lost Boys, Romeo And Juliet and The Shangri-Las’ Leader Of The Pack, you’re not alone.
In the dystopian city of Obsidian a tribe of mutants frozen at the age of 18 are in constant conflict with the cohorts of the evil Falco (Rob Fowler), a capitalist entrepreneur who lives with his bored wife Sloane (Sharon Sexton) and frustrated daughter Raven (Christina Bennington) in a vacuum-packed apartment out of reach of the teenage street gangs.
But when young Strat (Andrew Polec) sees Raven on a rare outing in the city, it is love at first sight. There may be trouble ahead. This is not an evening for quiet contemplation.
The rampaging score is played at seismic volume and the vocals, especially the collective choruses, are more sonic tsunamis than soaring melodies.
But the songs hold up and there is a pleasurable kick of familiarity when the cast launch into Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, Paradise By The Dashboard Light and the title number Bat Out Of Hell. Better still they are delivered by performers who are fearless in their interpretation.
I have rarely seen so many great singers on stage in the same production. Polec is terrific, a tousled blonde rocker with an amazing voice who looks like a cross between Heath Ledger and Iggy Pop.
The girls are just as good with Bennington effectively poised between virginal sweetness and barnstorming rock chick while Steers’ Zahara and Sexton’s Sloane are phenomenal.
Sexy, raucous, violent and occasionally touching it is only let down by uninspired dance routines which consist of little more than stomping, pogoing and air-pumping fists. But isn’t that being young has always been about?
BAT OUT OF HELL by Jim Steiman October 14 – January 7, 2018 ED MIRVISH THEATRE, 244 Victoria Street, Toronto TICKETS $50.00 – $199.00 www.mirvish.com 416-872-1212