Batman Live - SECC, Glasgow, Wed 3 Aug 2011
Wow moments of stage magic in a hammy version of the Batman story
The backstory of Batman is now so super-familiar it borders on being a kind of pop-cultural nativity. Alerted to the bothersome nature of street crime by the murder of his parents, the young Bruce Wayne gets physical and converts himself into Gotham City’s messiah of deliverance, abetted by disciples in the form of the Boy Wonder, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred, the faithful butler. The parable gets another spin round the block courtesy of Batman Live, a £7.5m arena show custom-built to hoover up whatever parental income remains in the school holidays.
With a cast of forty, the show is a bit of a cross between the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and two hours of the Nickelodeon channel. Rather than the darker psychologies of Christopher Nolan and contemporary graphic novels it goes for the hammy, pantomime vision of the story familiar from the (awful) Joel Schumacher movies. You will, though, be mildly diverted by the LED technology that transforms the rear stage wall into animated comic book panels and cave and asylum interiors, and there’ll always be something of the night about any tale which kicks off with a pair of double murders, of the parents of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.
Batman Live keeps the wow moments trundling along with reasonable regularity, particularly the giant jack-in-the-box which disgorges The Joker. It’s difficult, though, to shake the suspicion that at heart the entire show is essentially just a framing device for two hours of stage magic and trapeze acrobatics. Holy misleading, Batman.