Review: Bat Out Of Hell rocks Milton Keynes Theatre

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman's anthemic musical legacy proves to be a big theatrical hit, writes Alan Wooding

By Peter Ormerod
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 11:04 am
Glenn Adamson as Strat, Martha Kirby as Raven and the cast of Bat Out Of Hell. Photo: Chris Davis Studio
Glenn Adamson as Strat, Martha Kirby as Raven and the cast of Bat Out Of Hell. Photo: Chris Davis Studio

"It was really all about the music," said my grandson as we walked out of Milton Keynes Theatre last night having witnessed a colourful full-throttle show which has in roots in a 1977 rock 'n' roll album.

And at the ripe old age of 45, while Meat Loaf's original Bat Out Of Hell album remains a superb soundtrack, I'm not so sure about this show’s strange storyline whose plot could have been scribbled on the back of a cigarette packet. Thankfully the bonus is that it incorporates so many of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman's anthemic songs sung with gusto by a truly talented cast.

It goes something like this. Following an earthquake, a group of teenagers become trapped in a series of underground tunnels having been subjected to poisonous gas during a chemical war. They somehow managed to survive but they forever remain as Peter Pan-like 18-year-olds. Winding the clock forward 25 years, they're collectively known as 'The Lost' who live a feral lifestyle in an underworld city which is ruled by the tyrannical Falco. I did warn you it's bonkers!

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That aside, it's the usual boy-meets-girl story who fall in love much to her parents’ displeasure. Strat is the forever young leader of a rebellious gang and he falls for Raven, daughter of Falco and his usually inebriated wife Sloane.

Glenn Adamson and Martha Kirby are superb as the young lovers – especially in For Crying Out Loud – while I particularly enjoyed Falco (Jamie Jukes) and Sloane (Laura Johnson) and their rendition of Paradise By The Dashboard Light while standing atop a convertible car as they relive their teenage years. In fact all four actors gavey outstanding performances while the young couple also managed to somehow sing so brilliantly while leaping energetically around the stage.

Besides the four main leads, there were also great individual vocal performances from Killian Thomas Lefevre as Tink, James Chisholm (Jagwire), Joelle Moses (Zahara) and Danny Whelan as Ledoux.

The second act could almost be played as a concert as it crams so many of Meat Loaf's songs into it – there’s I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, Dead Ringer For Love, What Part Of My Body Hurts The Most, You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth and, of course, Bat Out Of Hell. Naturally it's all very loud and raucous while being delivered with energy and enthusiasm.

Before Tuesday's performance, around 40 local Harley Davidson-mounted 'Chapter' members arrived on their motorbikes to a cacophony of sound – and that left the prop bike on stage looking rather under-powered!

Bat Out Of Hell plays Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday June 25. Tickets cost from £13 before fees. Visit atgtickets.com/MiltonKeynes or call the box office on 0333 009 6690 to book or for more information about the show.