Batman Live: Don't Go In Expecting Nolan
Posted on Friday August 26, 2011, 18:00 by Nick de Semlyen in Empire States
If you’re heading down to Batman Live, the new multi-million-pound stage show at the O2, hoping to witness stage catastrophes of the kind that plagued Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, you’ll likely be disappointed. This is arena entertainment at its slickest: aside from a brief problem with one actor’s microphone and a minor line flub by another, everything went extraordinarily smoothly on opening night, which is impressive considering the number of pyrotechnics, on-screen visuals and high-wire acrobatics that make up this vision of Gotham City. Another refreshing change from Turn Off The Dark: this superhero spectacular is devoid of poppy power anthems.
There is, however, a lot of gymnastics, thanks to a storyline that focuses on how Batman and Robin came to team up. We start at the circus, where the Flying Graysons’ trapeze act is brutally interrupted by an assassin. Left bereft of his parents, Dick Grayson moves into Wayne Mansion. Meanwhile, the supervillains of Gotham — and they’re all here, from Two-Face to Harley Quinn — start to amass. These performances are clearly inspired by the ‘60s TV show, with The Penguin (Alex Giannini) sqwawking up a storm and Catwoman (Emma Clifford) delivering such zingers as “Cat got your gun?” The show’s first half is fun, silly, but not that eventful, and thanks to the vastness of the rogue’s gallery Batman himself (Sam Heughan) barely makes an impression.
Fortunately, the second half steps up, mounting a series of ambitious action set-pieces and adding a dash of darkness as The Joker (Mark Frost, with a spot-on giggle) enters the frame with a scheme to take over Arkham Asylum. With some genuinely creepy visuals — the bodies of Arkham inmates hanging from chains; the Scarecrow lurching around on stilts; a giant Joker face with the teeth peeling away to reveal themselves as body-stockinged henchmen — and the introduction of the Batmobile (an eye-popping design by Formula 1’s Gordon Murray), it moves closer into the turf of Batman: The Animated Series or recent videogame Arkham Asylum. And you’ve got to love this exchange between The Joker and Robin: “You killed my parents!”; “Only in the literal sense!”
There are a few niggles. Only those in the first few rows can see the actors’ faces and the O2 is perhaps too cavernous for this type of experience, making audience participation difficult. The dialogue is broad throughout and, as the Robin-centric slant suggests, the show as a whole skews young; don’t go in expecting Nolan-esque nuance. But as an eye-popping, ultra-ambitious celebration of all things Caped Crusader, it mostly hits the spot.
Login or register to comment.
Posted on Monday August 29, 2011, 07:39
Was considering going to see this, but after seeing a few other shows at the O2 I'm not so keen on returning there. Maybe once that 'Love Never Dies' thing finishes, it'll have its own dedicated venue?
Posted on Monday August 29, 2011, 08:08
Saw this at Newcastle Arena. A great show that doesnt take itself too seriously. Lots of fun and great for the kids. Batman and Robin running out at the end a master touch.
Posted on Monday August 29, 2011, 16:46
I too saw this at Newcastle Arena and found it very enjoyable. Maybe its better suited to smaller arenas, but Batman fans will have a great time.
Posted on Monday August 29, 2011, 19:15
I saw it at the 02 & thought it was great. It had lots of fun little one liners & does hark back to the camp old days of Batman, but as live entertainment goes, it was spotless. It has heroes, villains, acrobatics, great costumes & fire- what more could you possibly want?! I must admit though, that I was in the third row from the stage so can't be sure of the action witnessed from further afield.
Posted on Tuesday August 30, 2011, 12:28
I saw it at the Birmingham NIA and it was very spectacular. Batman was bit shoddy, eighed down by his rubber suit so the fights weren't great but the Joker and Scarecrow were extremely well handled. It was a little too camp at times and a few villains were wasted, like the Riddler, but overall it was a unique and entertaining experience that doesn't sully the Batman name. Unlike say, Joel Schumacher.
Posted on Tuesday August 30, 2011, 16:35
I saw the show at Glasgow and was very impressed. Whilst not in the same tone as the Nolan movies, it's a step or two up from Schumacher. Please remember that it IS a show aimed at the family, and was certainly popular with my family.
Posted on Wednesday August 31, 2011, 07:26
Saw it in Newcastle and was very underwhelmed - the fighting looked like a bunch of kids having a scrap in the playground and the whole thing just seemed to drag. My mate's kids seemed to love it though and I have to admit that the Batmobile and the comic book visuals that they displayed in the background were pretty good.
Posted on Wednesday August 31, 2011, 09:46
My sister and I went and saw this at the O2 last week and had a great time. I thought that it was an excellent production that appealed to such a wide age-range. The digital display screen was superb, and I loved the design of the batmobile - they made it their own. The hanging bodies of the Arkham inmates, and the slow motion fall of Robin's parents after they were shot added a nice dark edge to some scenes, but for a show that is marketed at people aged 6-106, they hit the nail on the head.
Posted on Wednesday August 31, 2011, 09:53
Saw this at the O2, agree the arean is not the best, I was very close to the front, to the side so the use of the background was diminished by the angle.
Reviewer missed out the brief but effective 'origin' sequence prior to the Flying Graysons. Good stuff but yes perhaps a littel underwhelming
Posted on Thursday September 1, 2011, 08:17
I saw this in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago. Really enjoyed it. Was most impressed with the Bat-Screen, HUGE and brilliantly used, especially when they walked through a door displayed on the screen and ended up going through that door. Great!
Yes it could do with a bit of tweaking, we don't need to see all the bad guys, just focus on one or two, but then a little girl was upset at half time that she hadn't seen Poison Ivy yet.
If you're planning to go, I'd not pay the full price ticket that sees you sit in "Gotham" as you will be too close. Whilst you might not see the actors mouth move further back, you get to fully appreciate the awesome spectacle it brings.