Nerdy review, incoming
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It’s no easy feat, transferring a 72-year-old super hero comic book legacy (and enormous movie franchise) onto the stage. Just ask the producers of Broadway’s Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark.
Fortunately the people behind the Batman Live World Arena Tour have gotten the balance just right, realising that in order to stage such a spectacle you have to leave the confines of a traditional theatre and place the action in venues normally used to big music concerts.
As such, the performers of Batman Live reach far into – and sometimes above – the audience, blending a traditional action-packed adventure with some nifty circus acrobatics and pyrotechnics via a stage that stretches out from a huge bat-shaped video screen.
The screen forms an integral part of the ongoing story, flipping like the traditional comic book that spawned the shows large host of characters, and dragging you into the action. It’s a wonderful technique which looks incredible during sequences in the Penguin’s rooftop mobster bar, the Batcave (with the stunning Batmobile) and especially in the final battle at Arkham Asylum.
The story manages to take a lot in, including Batman’s origin and how circus performer Dick Grayson became Bruce Wayne’s ward – thus becoming the dynamic duo, Batman and Robin. It’s Dick’s quest to avenge the murder of his parents that leads to all the villains of Gotham City converging under a masterplan by psychotic killer clown prince of crime, the Joker.
While it’s great to see characters like The Riddler, Poison Ivy and even The Scarecrow, they get side-lined slightly in favour of the green-haired meanie and his sidekick, Harley Quinn (who many casual viewers may not immediately know).
Catwoman, of course, puts in an appearance – my nerdometer went off the scale when her entrance was preceded with a nod to Danny Elfman’s Batman Returns score – and almost steals the show.
By comparison to the ongoing screen versions, it’s as close to seeing a live action movie as you’ll get, but it’s perhaps more Adam West than Christian Bale (although not as camp, though that’s not a bad thing) with it seemingly making more of a nod to Joel Schumacher’s more colourful big-screen adaptations than any other.
It’s also a bit of a bonus that the actor playing Robin fills his lycra particularly well.
Though it starts slow the backstory pays off and most definitely leaves you wanting to activate the bat signal for the heroes to return another day.
If I’d seen this when I was a Batman-obsessed child (rather than the Batman-obsessed adult I became) I would have probably exploded. Quite simply, it’s the superhero show I’ve waited my entire nerdy life to see – more please!
Batman Live is at the 02, London until 3 September. For tickets and full UK tour dates have a look here.