Batman: A Pantomime
Tues – Thurs 7:30pm
Tickets: £4 – £5
Only the most phlegmatic could resist raising an eyebrow at the idea of bringing Batman and pantomime together. Especially in February. However the Light Entertainers apparently thought this was something the world needed, and it turns out that they were right. This original script featuring some catchy musical numbers is well worth a look, especially for those put off by minimalist productions about the Armenian genocide.
The story begins with a frustrated Robin complaining that he is ignored, lied to and generally treated like the least favourite child. With all the tact of a particularly self-obsessed rowing Blue, Batman offers to make it up to him with a trip to the zoo and maybe even a balloon. In the aftermath of this break-up an assortment of bizarre villains are unleashed on the city, and the remainder of the play follows Batman’s attempt to restore order. That is, if he can find the time between strutting around and singing his own praises, the highlight here surely being the ‘Bat rap’.
Despite being unfamiliar with the source material I had no difficulty in following the action and never felt I was missing anything. In contrast to the darker, grittier films this production has a jaunty and light-hearted feel, and so also offers something fresh to those who have seen Batman in other incarnations. It doesn’t ever really feel like a pantomime but it has the hallmarks of a comedy performance, relying for most of its substance on a series of sketches, although they are tied into a greater narrative. Plot takes a back seat to puns and absurdity.
Perhaps inevitably some of the humour felt unoriginal, but the pace of the script means this never becomes a problem. The costumes and props come from a mixed bag; Two-Face and a mad scientist fixated on steampunk are very well portrayed, while Albert and the plastic guns wielded by the henchmen fail to convince. To succeed, a play of this type needs vitality and enthusiasm more than expensive production values, and these it certainly has. Possibly the stand-out performances are given by Aya Matsumoto as Two-Face and Alex Stutt as Batman himself, with the latter’s unapologetic narcissism surprisingly appealing.
All in all, Batman: A Pantomime is highly entertaining, and after reading the name you could hardly expect anything more. The episodic story showcases a number of strong individual performances and some amusing exchanges, with the most memorable moments being the songs. Whether or not you’re a fan of Batman or pantomime, I recommend you clear space in your diary and watch this latest offering from the company behind Poirot: The Musical.