One Hell Of A Ride

By Richard Barber

The year is 2100 and we’re in dystopian hell: what remains of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, in which a gang of survivors, the Lost, led by a youth called strat, are confined to the city’s sewers and doomed (for reasons never explained) to remain 18 forever more.

Above ground lives the tyrannical Falco, his spoilt wife, Sloane, and their pampered daughter, Raven. her parents are at pains to prevent their little darling from having anything to do with the tousle-haired gang leader. so, of course, the two meet and promptly fall in love. This is a mixture, then, of Romeo and Juliet and a liberal sprinkling of Peter Pan, with strat’s devotee, tink (Alex Thomas-smith), insanely jealous of Raven. but the main point of the evening is the music of Meat Loaf, whose back catalogue is plundered, sometimes on the slimmest pretext, as yet one more ear-splitting song is unleashed on the captive audience. but it certainly hit its mark, an award-winning season at the Coliseum so successful last year it’s now being revived at the cavernous Dominion.

The first half of the evening is little more than a rock video come to life, complete with motorbikes, one of which disintegrates to spectacular effect, and motorcars, one of which lands up in the orchestra pit, three musicians subsequently stumbling onstage bearing aloft their apparently mangled instruments.

Proceedings pick up in the second half when some semblance of a story begins to emerge and some of Meat Loaf’s better songs (all written by Jim Steinman) start to make their mark: I liked Dead Ringer for Love, two out of three
Ain’t bad, and especially the imaginatively titled, objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear closer than they are. But subtlety is not a charge that could be laid at this production’s door. céline Dion had a big hit with Meat Loaf’s It’s All coming back to Me now, more or less murdered on this outing by a foursome shouting rather than singing, any trace of poignancy strangled at birth.

Still, Andrew Polec as strat looks the part and can certainly sing. Christina Bennington makes a convincing Goth princess, while her parents, Rob Fowler and sharon sexton, provide much of the evening’s comedy. special mention, too, for Danielle steers as the strutting, iron-lunged Zahara.

It’s total tosh, of course, and not for the faint-hearted. but it doesn’t lack a kind of two- dimensional energy. one last question, though: what exactly is it that Mr Loaf won’t do for love?

Bat Out Of Hell runs at the Dominion until 27 October, London W1T, 0845-200 7982,