Bat out of hell, 21.06.2017
Location: London Coliseum
Favourite song of the show: What part of my body hurts the most
Favourite lyrics: “Come a little bit closer, Come here now, let’s see!”
Favourite quote of the night: “But I never cry!” (Me after the show)
Why this show?
I came back to London only a week after I left and sadly there was another tragedy. Last time I arrived a day after the attacks on Borough market and this time I flew in the day the Grenfell Tower burned down. What an incredible tragedy.
Still, life in London goes on and this time I was actually not solely there for pleasure, but mainly for work. I attended the EATAW (European Association for Teaching of Academic Writing, if you’re interested) conference 2017, which was hosted at the Royal Holloway College out in Egham. If you are ever in the area make sure you’ll visit the campus, because it has the most incredible buildings. You feel either like in a Harry Potter movie or like you stepped inside Downton Abbey. Actually, I was informed that Downton Abbey shot here for an episode or two.
Unexpectedly, in this incredible summer heat, I was asked to come along to see Bat out of Hell, because there was a free ticket available. I agreed, even though I knew nothing about this show.
So, apparently all (most?) Meat Loaf songs were written by a man called Jim Steinman, who kind of always thought of his music as a musical. Only took him 40 years until a musical would be made out of his songs. I know Meat Loaf, I know some of his songs and so I thought why not? It was however a bit difficult to get details about the plot of the show out of my company, so that was a surprise.
Holy cow, I wasn’t aware that they build these theatres so high. And so steep. Did I mention I am afraid of heights? I basically sat down, grasped the armrest and didn’t let go unless I had to. There were ‘newspapers’ on the seats and for the first time I got an idea what this show is about. It’s set in Obsidian (former Manhattan), a dystopian town run by tyrant Falco. He is married to Sloane and has daughter Raven, who turns 18 soon. And then there are the Lost, a group of youths who are genetically altered due to some accident and can’t age. Their leader Strat is Falco’s biggest enemy and also in love with Raven. So far, so good.
The show starts with a bang. Well, or a scream, if you want. Because Strat suddenly yells into the audience ‘I remember everything’. I was later told that this is a line from a Steinman album. Ok. I found it a bit weird. Strat looks like a mixture of Bon Jovi back in the days and Leonardo diCaprio. Again, weird combination. But that’s not where the weird ended for me when it came to Strat. What is this thing about “Would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses”? I know that that’s a line from a song, but hearing it said out loud and in a dialogue setting, made me question the mental stability of the kid. Seriously, what kind of pickup line is that? And he goes around waiting for a girl to give him the right answer. I’d probably run for help, if someone asked me that in all seriousness. On top of that, he watches Raven through her bedroom window and even creeps into her room. Peeping Tom, anyone? Ok, maybe I just don’t get the romance of it, I sometimes have that problem with scenes in books or movies others find incredibly romantic. I always ask myself, what would happen, if someone actually did/said that?
Anyway, let’s just say I didn’t become Strat’s biggest fan during the show, even though the actor was a good singer.
Raven was cute and got stronger as the show went on. Yet, again, I couldn’t really understand her actions at times.
Then there is the character of Zahara. She is a friend of Strat but also works for Falco. As what exactly I couldn’t say. The nanny? Housekeeper? Companion for the wife/daughter? Nurse? And then there is the question why she is even working there, if she is one of the lost or associates with them? And why is she such good friend with Sloane? I mean, Sloane leaves her husband with/for her? And is she in love with this guy now or not? And is the person she was in love with once Strat? Or Falco? Or maybe Sloane? Questions and more questions that by the end of the show remained unanswered, but I have to say I didn’t really care in this case, because the actress/singer who plays Zahara was unbelieveable. She has this deep, soulful voice that makes you either get goosebumps or the urge to get up and dance, when she sings. Oh yeah, and she can REALLY dance.
The rest of the Lost are really really good, as well. There’s a scene in there that really gave me the creeps because it reminded me so much of Guantanamo and the way they all played it: Very creepy, but very good.
Now, on to my main point of focus in this post: Where in the world have these incredible actors/singers come from who play Falco and Sloane? I’ve seen 6 musicals so far and been to many concerts, but NO ONE EVER made me cry. I did not expect this at all!
So, at first when you see them Sloane is basically drunk all the time and makes these funny comments (“I’m a lamp, turn me on”), stumbles around, falls off the couch and in her sober moments tries to care for her daughter. Falco and Sloane both seem unhappy in their marriage, but weirdly united in their bitterness. And Falco obviously cares for his daughter and once upon a time loved his wife, but now is a cruel ruler of this town and quite brutal.
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot here, but Sloane and Falco at one point get it on on a table, later turned car (don’t ask), while they perform a song called “Paradise by the dashboard lights”. That’s all in the first act. They’re funny, sarcastic, scary and by the interval I hadn’t quite decided yet if I liked or despised the characters, even though I already loved the actors.
And then came the second half. Excuse the painstaking detail here, but this is too epic not to describe it (and it’s been a couple of weeks between writing this review and seeing the show, which might give you an idea how impressed I am): The scenes starts with Falco alone in the living room, he pours himself a drink and sits down on the couch. Then he looks at a photo (I couldn’t quite see it in detail without leaning forward- remember my fear of heights) and starts singing a song I had never heard before called ‘What part of my body hurts the most’, very softly.
The lyrics go “What part of my body hurts the most? What part of my soul is crying? For crying out loud…” By that time I have goosebumps. He keeps singing and Sloane enters the room, unnoticed by him, and listens before joining him, which is when he notices her. The lyrics of ‘Come here now, let’s see’ fit so perfectly here. I can’t remember all of the lyrics, but basically she then sings that she doesn’t know if he’s a demon or an angel and they go on (not in these words) that they miss each other even though, they are right there. By this time, my heart is beating out of my chest and I am hoping that they would just give each other a hug and make it all better. What incredible emotion and chemistry in this scene! The song becomes more of an argument with the two of them asking “Is this the way that it’s supposed to be?”. Then they go through different reasons what could have gone wrong (Well, actually different body parts, but you get my drift) they both get more and more desperate and I feel choked up, again, wishing for them to just make up, because their desperation is so palpable. And then Falco says “Please”, begging her not to leave (because she has packed her things) and I lose it. I start crying right there in my seat in this dark theatre. I can’t help it. I mean, I want to beg her not to leave him, because I feel so sorry for them both, even though he just tortured a couple of kids before.
He begs her once more not to leave and sinks down on the sofa when she walks to the door. She hesitates, but then leaves anyway. And I am crushed and sobbing.
I am lacking the words to express how epic that scene is. But later these two also sing “It’s all coming back to me now’ (I love that song from Celine Dion and it made me grin like a fool) and a small parts in ‘Anything for love’ and outshine the rest of the cast.
Sharon Sexton (Sloane) and Rob Fowler (Falco), I don’t know how you came to play these roles, what you did before or who cast you, but you two have an on stage chemistry and your voices harmonise in ways I have never witnessed before. Please, don’t ever stop singing or performing together! That was nothing but magical. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you!
If you have answers to my plot questions above, please answer them!
As far as the internet tells me there is no CD out (Why???) and no illegal videos up on youtube of this number as of yet. Please, please, I need this song sung by the two of them. I have the lines that I can remember from “What part of my body” stuck in my head and they won’t leave. I am slowly losing it here. So, if you know a way how to get a recording, then please let me know!
Do it again?
(Bat out of) Hell, yes! But only with Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton in it. They really are what made the magic for me.