I almost didn’t see this. The wonderful Gillian was going to get me tickets as a surprise after telling me it looked rubbish based on the posters. And then discovered that it was on a week earlier than she expected and had one of my facebook friends not mentioned it, would have been trying to book tickets a week after it had finished!
I’m not sure what I was expecting as I’d deliberately kept myself in the dark. However, with one exception, all the feedback I’d had was positive. As it turns out, it was deserved.
The show runs for two 50-minute halves and includes acrobatics, tumbling, jokes, a good story, magic and incredible effects. Whoever designed the set deserves a stack of awards, as that (other than the drool-some woman who plays Poison Ivy) is the real star of the show. The stage projects out into the audience and the cast make full use of it. There are plenty of cool props, such as miniature buildings and so forth, but the most impressive permanent item is the huge digital screen.
This is used as a backdrop for every scene and the images thereon merge cleverly with the physical aspects. Doorways in the image are actual doorways for the cast (and other props) to move in and out of. The screen is also used to indicate transitions in sets with beautifully animated page-turning effects. It really is something special.
There is something in the show for everyone. Most of the well-known villains are present, fronted of course by The Joker, and our tale takes us from Batman’s beginnings to Robin‘s teaming up with him. Quite a lot to cram into a little under two hours, but it manages it without feeling rushed.
The cast are excellent, playing their parts with the right attitude dependent on their character. Many of the villains really play to the crowd in a panto-esque fashion. Feel free to boo, and to cheer Batman and Robin. The crowd watching my performance certainly did! It’s certainly more Batman & RobinÂ than The Dark KnightÂ as Tiff quite correctly put it. However, it manages the campness in a way that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. The stage can get away with this portrayal far better than the cinema screen could.
I found the fight scenes a little slow, showing the choreography a little too much but – hey – I’m nitpicking. There’s certainly enough going on, particularly in the larger ones with multiple combatants, to make it worthwhile seeing the show more than once so you can focus on another character. The same can be said of the circus scenes which are wonderfully busy.
Visually, though, it’s staggering. The sheer scale of the operation blew my mind. I was impressed by the end of the first half, but the best was definitely left until after the interval when things just got bigger and more impressive.
As a new way of enjoying one of the best (if not the actual best) superheroes out there, this is a top notch effort. Definitely worth the entry price and I’m very much hoping they do a sequel.