story and book by Kethe Farley and Brian Flemming music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe.
Southwark Playhouse (The Large) 77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD To 31 January 2015.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 29 Jan 3 pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: William Russell 14 January.
Bats, comic capers and mother love.
Brash, loud and anything but subtle, this is a comic-strip musical bursting with life, set in Hope Falls, West Virginia, a hick town. Teenagers exploring local caves discover a totally bald creature clad only in a loincloth who sports a splendid set of fangs.
The creature bites one of the trio, is hunted by the local sheriff and ends up handed over to the town vet, Dr Parker (Matthew White), who happens to be on holiday.
His wife Meredith (Lauren Ward) takes a fancy to the lad, a well-developed young chap rather than a boy, as does his daughter Shelley (Georgina Hagen). Under their care Bat Boy (Rob Compton) turns into a handsome, preppy lad with fangs who desperately wants to belong. The locals, however, have other ideas.
Few surprises get sprung, but things keep moving briskly and noisily. The over-amplification is so bad some lyrics are impossible to understand; a pity as they appear to be – when one can hear them – rather good.
It starts slowly, and only really comes to life ten or more minutes in, with the arrival of Dr Parker. Matthew White gets one of the better songs – ‘Dance With Me Darling’ – to deliver and does it magnificently.
There is a high standard of singing by the strong, very versatile cast of ten. Ward and Hagen rise to the challenge of their songs, and there is a show-stopping cameo from Simon Bailey in a yellow suit and golden shoes as a Bible Belt preacher who saves Bat Boy’s soul.
Rob Compton, once he gets clothes to wear, proves a touching Bat Boy, lamenting his lot and wanting just to be like everyone else, although the inhabitants of Hope Falls are such a gruesome lot this seems less than sensible. As to whom Bat Boy is, no prizes for guessing.
Joey McKneely provides some nifty dance routines, and to help things along there are some entertaining video projections on the back wall of the set. The message, of course, is the one about treating everyone equally as members of society, no matter how odd they may be.
Bat Boy: Rob Compton.
Meredith Parker: Lauren Ward.
Dr Parker: Matthew White.
Shelley Parker: Georgina Hagen.
Sheriff: Russell Wilcox.
Bud/Daisy: Nolan Frederick.
Roy/Mrs Taylor/Reverend Hightower: Simon Bailey.
Rick/Ned: Andy Rees.
Ruthie/Lorraine: Pepper Harrison.
Ron/Maggie: Lindsay Scigliano.
Director: Luke Fredericks.
Designer/Costume: Stewart Charlesworth.
Lighting: Cat Webb.
Sound: Mike Thacker.
Musical Supervisor: Mark Crossland.
Choreographer: Joey McKneely.
Video: Benjamin Waldem.