Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review: Bat Boy at the Southwark Playhouse

Bat Boy
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Wednesday 14th January 2015

What could possibly be strange about a musical that follows a family who take in a child raised by bats and teach him the ways of the world? Everything! Without doubt Bat Boy is one of the strangest musicals I have ever seen - it is an enjoyable nightmare.

Following in the satirical footsteps of Urinetown, Bat Boy is not a show that should be taken too seriously. At first the humour is very shallow and I wondered what on earth I was watching, but I did warm to the piece eventually.

Rob Compton (pictured right with Georgina Hagen) is extraordinary as Bat Boy, his performance is career defining. The role is huge; when we first meet Bat Boy as an angry creature Compton impressively tumbles around the stage. Then, before you know it, he's transformed and provides the piece with heart. It's a big sing and Compton paces himself well, hitting all the money notes.

Lauren Ward and Matthew White (Meredith Parker and Dr Parker, the couple who take Bat Boy into their home) give knockout performances and impress vocally. Georgina Hagen is also strong as their daughter, Shelley Parker, particularly during some awkwardly comical moments.

Laurence O'Keefe's score bounces from style to style; it is as weird and wacky as Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming's book which surprises throughout - the majority of the show is utterly bonkers. Perhaps Luke Fredericks' production is a little too cartoony, everything is exaggerated to the max which occasionally detracts from the lively score, genuine humour and heart. The production lacks extreme highs and lows, it never quite manages to peak.

The constant sound problems were very frustrating. Previously at Southwark I have found bands to drown out vocals; however, last night everything just seemed too loud and the sound quality was low. Microphone cues were constantly missed which was also very annoying, but the cast battled through.

I have absolutely no idea who to recommend Bat Boy to. Some people will embrace the silliness and funky score whilst others will find the entire experience bewildering. The musical has flaws, but I admire what it brings to the table. It really is rare to see something so different; if you fancy being a little courageous and seeing something silly, quirky and abnormally funny it's certainly worth giving Bat Boy a try.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Bat Boy runs at the Southwark Playhouse until Saturday 31st January 2015.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Garry Lake

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