Entertainment Magazine

Zap! Pow! Batman, LIVE! Onstage

Posted on the 20 July 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Zap! Pow! Batman, LIVE! onstage

Kerpow! It cost £7.5million. Bam! It took two and a half years to make. Wallop! It’s just launched in Manchester – it’sBatman, at the Manchester News Arena, as you’ve never seen him before, live and onstage complete with flying jetpacks, acrobats and lashings of campery. We can all now rest in our beds now that our favourite and not-so-dark, at least in this version knight is back in town. Oh – and he’s going on a world tour, too.

All together now… Batman! Batman! Batmaaan!

The story has Batman meeting Robin, before they set about ridding the city of all the old villains: The Joker, The Penguin, and so on. Pretty standard bat-plot, but the show has some critics cheering and others jeering.

  • Go Gaga for Gotham. “Holy Expectations, Batman!” exclaimed Robert Hughes in The Daily Telegraph. There’s a lot riding on this show. SpiderMan: Turn Off the Dark was an absolute disaster, but don’t worry: “[T]his isn’t a musical.” It’s a live-action drama “with dazzling special effects, retina-popping visuals and improbable feats of highwire derring-do, all choreographed within a Catwoman’s whisker of perfection.” With a cast made up of actors and acrobats, it’s a  “hyper-real, hi-tech pantomime.” Coming from the people who brought us Lady Gaga’s set, you’d expect there to be pyrotechnics. But if you want a “deeply existential tale along the lines of The Dark Knight or Batman Begins,” then you’re advised to “head elsewhere.”

  • Gotham City? It’s worse than Salford. “Imagine a grey, post-industrial urban landscape festering with decadence and crime,” said Sam Jordan in The Guardian, “where the only sounds are the shriek of sirens and the occasional gunshot. But this is not the BBC’s new headquarters in the north: this is Gotham City.” But before the battle commenced, “first there was the merchandise”, with “bat capes, bat T-shirts, bat masks, bat hoodies, and even, for the fashion-conscious-yet-practical feline villain about town, Catwoman shopping bags.” Avoiding the more psychopathic sides of our caped crusader, this was “a sanitised Batman, a crimefighter who prizes justice over revenge; a Dark Knight rendered a paler shade of black.” Excellent setpieces abound, and “that’s to say nothing of the flirty, leather-clad Catwoman” who pants “like a moggie in a microwave.” Zap! Pow! Batman, LIVE! onstage

    This is what Catwoman uses to buy her catfood. Seriously.

  • Viva Las Vegas? Surely not. Not so, bat fans! grumbled Jonathan Brown in The Independent. The first half feels “more like a Las Vegas hotel show, surely leaving some of the wide-eyed young fans decked out in bat costumes feeling short-changed in the action stakes.” There are girls on ropes and an LED bat-shaped backdrop, but “it feels strangely static.” There is, however,  “humour and intelligence” in the second half, whilst the “climax at the Arkham Asylum finally sees the fight scenes come alive.” But overall, “this feels more like computer gaming brought to life than a fully rounded family show,” he said, whilst conceding that “still, a thousand little boys in Batman outfits go home happy.”
  • No dirty phone calls here. Whilst the villains jostle for attention, said Glenn Meades on The Stage, “due to Allan Heinberg’s knowing writing, there is more to this show than zap, bang and pow. Kamran Darabi-Ford’s Robin, for example, is so well drawn and played that you feel an emotional connection to him.” Batman (Sam Heughan) thankfully avoids “the dirty phone-call voice that Christian Bale adopts in The Dark Knight. But, this performer does seem breathy and out of puff during the clumsy fight scenes. Poppy Tierney and Emma Clifford are far more than eye candy as Harley Quinn and Catwoman, yet Mark Frost has the best lines as the devilishly funny Joker. For the techies, Sam Pattinson’s stunning video backdrop and Professor Gordon Murray’s beautiful Batmobile give you real bang for your buck. Colourful – with dazzling set pieces – this show is a feast for the eyes. Sure, Anthony Van Lasst’s direction could be tighter but Batman Live exceeds audience expectations with aplomb.”

Holy, moly! It’s more on entertainment! And maybe bats! And superheroes!

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