If you ever thought that Batman wouldn’t translate well to the stage, then clearly you haven’t seen that musical episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold – do yourself a favour and google “Mayhem of the Music Meister” and prepare to be entertained.
Also, you probably haven’t seen Batman Live, and unfortunately you now won’t have the chance to in London any more – I managed to catch the penultimate performance last Saturday. You might ask yourself just how Batman could grapple-swing from the screen (both silver and big) onto the stage, and rightly so – the man dresses up extravagantly, leaps around the city to an impressive musical score and fights some of the campest villains in existence. Oh alright, maybe it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.
I got the tickets for Christmas (or my birthday, I forget which because both events are pretty close together) and that present paid off grandly. It took place in The O2, a massive arena in London for those who don’t know, and it was suitably large and eventful to fill such a space, and with me sitting on the ground level about ten metres away from the stage, I was in a prime position to enjoy everything the show had to offer.
The story focuses mainly on how Robin came to be, with the murder of his parents and the subsequent tracking down by Batman and the then-not-Robin of their killers. We are introduced to many of Batman’s famous rogues, including Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler and Two-Face. However, after some snooping around by Dick Grayson, he discovers that the man behind his parents’ murder is none other than the Joker (naturally, I mean who else could it have been?).
And so starts the transformation of Dick Grayson into Robin, and a frankly awesome showdown between Batman and a circus-full of goons, before speeding in the highly impressive Batmobile to Arkham Asylum to face every villain the production artists could handle.
This is nowhere near the dark, brooding tone of Chris Nolan’s Batman films, and I found it a welcome return to the camper side of Batman – admittedly it was nowhere near the ham-fest that Adam West starred fantastically in, but at least we got to see that Batman can be fun as well as serious. I hope the rebooted Batman franchise follows this route in the future.
Worked into the story are various spectacular circus performances, dance acts and even some magic, with Joker showing off his fancy murder-machines with Harley Quinn as a test subject. Along the back was a massive bat-shaped screen on which comic-style animations played out at specific times, helping to add to the action onstage. Batman, Robin and a few others flew about the stage on various wires, flying and leaping from building to building as only superheroes can.
Everyone I have met who has seen Batman Live loved it, and I can’t blame them. It was fun, and the audience got behind their favourite superhero as he returned to the comic-book feel that he was known for. I’m sad to say that Batman Live is not showing in London any more, but we can hope that it will come back someday, so that we might step once again into Gotham to see its Dark Knight kick some more arse.