UK based Legions of Gothamite Matt Felson attended the London Batman Live show on August 27th and although he couldn't smuggle in a real camera, he got some great cell phone pics for us! Thanks to Matt for sharing his review.
After having waited several months since buying my ticket for 'Batman Live' today was finally the day I got to see the Show. The last few months have been full of worry and anticipation for the show as there facebook page and fan site have had fans posting mixed views on what the show would be like. I. like many others brought my tickets as soon as I heard about the show and tickets went on sale. Then within a month or so the first potential blow was dealt, An announcement was made to say the show was going to be mainly focused on the rise of Robin. Whiles some fans were outraged at this idea and contemplating refunding there tickets others were willing to wait and see and slowly the moans and complaints died down, But not for long! Next just a few months before the show was set to start the organisers announced that they would be holding open auditions to find the cast and again members of there facebook page began to complain that it had been left too late and rehearsals should have been well under way already. But again things calmed down and people waited with an open mind. Then just weeks before the show was set to open the Batmobile was revealed. This time it was more mixed reviews with some real love being shown for the new car but also alot of 'what the hell is that crap!' and 'It's not as good as the Tumbler.' But with my tickets now in hand I crossed my fingers and waited for the show to come to town.
On the 27th August I arrived at the O2 Arena, London, and was pleased to find a good selection of Batman merchandise on sale and for the the type of show it seemed the prices were quite reasonable too. Most of the T-Shirts were around £20, programmes £15 (which were well designed with lots of info and a fold-out 3D poster in the middle) Batman masks £8, kids Batman capes £10 as well as mug's, badge sets, keyring's, shopping bags, hoddie's and posters. Not to mention the 'Batman Live' carrier bag they put your purchases in which were really nice too.
After spending a large part of my monthly wage of merchandise I passed though the ticket barrier and headed for my seat. The first thing you're confronted by is a huge bat shaped video screen backdrop displaying a moonlit Gotham cityscape with skyscrapers on the stage in front of it. This all looks really good and on the build up to the start of the show the moon slowly rises high in the sky until it's lights down and the show begins!
Now I don't want to ruin the show for anyone who's going to see it so all i'll say are there are some bit's that are really well done and some bit's that were, well, not so well done.
Starting with the bad - I'm not sure why but during a scene with a young Bruce Wayne in they have a girl playing Bruce, I cant see why they used a girl other then to get a prepubescent high pitch voice but she looks and sounds like a girl which is a shame as it detracts from a powerful scene in the story. The whole first half is a little slow and there's a couple of scenes where acrobats come on (during the circus scene and the first time we see the Penguin) that are very similar to each other and whiles very well done and show some extremely skilful acrobats, don't add anything to the story and just feel like padding. Another downside was the Batmobile, The car itself I love, even if they do say it's more of a hover-car then a car which is a bit of a stretch of the imagination. But the downside of the Batmobile was that it was hardly used. It only come's on in the second half and only for a minute or two which is a real shame as they clearly put a lot of thought into designing it. The story is stretched a bit thin in places to allow them to bring in all the main baddies we know and love and i'm really glad we get to see the like of the Penguin, Two-face, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Harlequin, Scarecrow, Catwoman and the Joker but again it would have been nice if the first half was developed to include them all a bit more, as the Riddler, Scarcrow and Poison Ivy are hardly used. During some of the big fight scenes it seemed like the actors were fighting by numbers and it did come across a little slow in parts but as this show hasn't been out long i'm sure it'll get cleaner and quicker the more it's preformed. Now my last gripe with the show is probably my biggest, there's no easy way to say this but it was . . . . . . . BATMAN! Now I cant decide if it was the actor or just the script but he just seemed to almost be a side character in the show and whiles on stage when other characters were acting he seemed to be a bit lost and not to sure where to stand or what to do with himself. My hope is that as this show runs and the actors get used to the performance Batman will get better but he still seems a little under used in the story which whiles it focuses on Robin could have included a bit more Batman.
Now for the good parts of which there were many. As I mentioned the bat shaped video screen back drop was excellent, allowing them to change scenes instantly. It was also put to good affect to show comic book pictures as parts of the story which really brought the whole show back to it's comic book roots as well as brining the comics to life. Now I don't know if it's possible for anyone to play the Joker badly as I think he has always been well played in all the film's he's been in by all the actors who have played him and the show carries on this tradition with a brilliant performance by the guy who was playing him along with Harlequin Two-face and Robin who all do a really good job. The second half of the show picks up the pace and brings in some classic moments that the audience clapped alone and cheered to. These included the unveiling of the Batmobile, Robin getting his suit and being named and the ever so funny, Batman and Robin run at the end.
Overall I've got to say I loved the show. There will be people out there who will go to see this expecting 'Batman Begins' and they'll be disappointed. You have to remember that this is a family show and whiles there are a couple of darker parts to the story in Arkham Asylum, most of this is aimed at adults AND children. The story and the style is probably more 'Batman Forever' but don't let that put you off as it's well worth a watch. Would I see it again? Yes. I think i'd leave it a month or 2 to see if they iron out a few of the minor problems but overall I really enjoyed it. A solid 8 out of 10 in my book.