Batman Live: Stageshow marred by bad costumes, campy performances, but still finds a following
The Batman Live stage show hasn’t received much attention amidst all the excitement over The Dark Knight Rises, Arkham City, and the DC Comics reboot. Perhaps it should be grateful, because what we’ve seen of the performances are cringe-worthy and the costumer obviously didn’t get the memo that Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin is widely viewed as the worst comic book movie of all time.
Flickr’s Mark Gascoigne has uploaded a fabulous photostream of it, however, taken with a Canon PowerShot SX200 IS.
That’s not to say word of mouth is uniformally bad. Reviews are mixed but ordinary people who aren’t regular theatre-goers are generous enough if they’re given a lot of visual spectacle, and for the hardcore fanboys, simply alluding to a name they know from comics, like Tony Zucco or Julie Madison gets kudos.
The show is a wonder to look at. Every penny of the bloated budget is there on the stage, with the aesthetics genuinely feeling like a circus, Wayne Manor, Arkham Asylum, and many more locations. We are also treated to spectacular dancing, acrobatics, and props that would make any West End show green with envy- hot air balloons, a giant Joker head, and of course the impressive Batmobile (a modified Formula 1 car). The first act is perhaps less impressive, owing no doubt to the fact that it is trying to appeal to everyone. This act is full of backstory, and that makes for a somewhat slow pace (albeit with the welcome distraction of some wonderful acrobatics). The general tone is a little pulpy, somewhat like a Dick Tracy serial, which will not please fans of the darker Christopher Nolan interpretation (although, to be fair, that would be a tough sell to a crowd of families).
The show itself was good, but there were some bad moments. I personally loved the opening scene with the death of the Wayne’s. Young Bruce was jumping around with his toy sword and mask after seeing the Mark of Zorro and told his father at this point he wanted to fight crime with a mask just like Zorro. Then, the Wayne’s are gunned down by Joe Chill and we saw an emotional scene where young Bruce swore revenge. This was very well done, and probably the darkest moment of the whole show. The death of the Grayson’s was next but I found it kind of boring. I’m not a fan of the circus and what we got here was quite a bit of a Cirque du Soleil with dancers, clowns, and the Flying Grayson’s performing acrobatics. I also think there should have been a scene with Batman before the death of the Grayson’s, as it seemed we were waiting ages for Batman to arrive. One thing I did love though was that Tony Zucco was the man who caused the death of the Grayson’s and there was even a scene with Dick’s father arguing with him. When the Grayson’s died, they did a slow motion rope fall which was effective as I had no idea how they’d do the actual fall. It became clear that someone had ordered the hit on the Grayson’s but we wouldn’t find out who until a little bit later. There was also a scene before the death with Commisioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne, in which it was pretty clear Gordon didn’t like Bruce very much and even accused him of being a playboy (Julie Madison and Vicki Vale even got a mention). They also had a scene at the close of the Circus scene where Gordon asks Bruce to take Dick in which Bruce reluctantly does.
Unfortunately, the producers made a critical mistake, boasting just before opening that DC Comics had a hand in everything. As one fan on Twitter put it, to any real Batman fan “DC Comics” = “Kiss of Death.”