Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Superhero stage shows

After the Broadway musical disaster which is Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, you may think the world has no need of further superhero stage shows.

Indeed, you might well have thought we didn't actually need the first one.

Comic books can turn into good films, but why would that mean they make for a great live show?

Even when the Spiderman musical was first announced, it was impossible to feel enthusiastic.

Who could fail to be baffled at the prospect of matching the coming-of-age story of everyone's favourite geeky teen-bitten-by-a-radioactive-spider with the music of Bono? But it turns out that you just can't keep a bad idea down.

Which is why Batman Live, a stage show centred on the man with the cape and the cave, had its launch in London last week.

The organisers have promised that this show won't be dogged by technical glitches and injured Spidermen.

They aren't trying to cram all their stunts into a theatre for a start, and - as they point out - 'Batman can't fly.'

They are promising a Batmobile, however, designed by some bloke from Formula One. So, if we're lucky, it won't look like one really big rollerskate left over from Starlight Express.

And there will be a properly scary Joker. Though Nick Grace, the show's executive producer, said he wasn't worried about children getting too frightened.

I saw plenty of eight-year-olds howling with fear at Heath Ledger's Joker, having been taken to the cinema to see the age-inappropriate Dark Knight.

Besides, the most distressing thing about the Batman story isn't the Joker - it's the fact that, as a child, Bruce Wayne sees his parents gunned down in the street by a mugger.

This can be very frightening for a child, who then fears that their parents, too, might be gunned down in the street. After which they're faced with the responsibility of becoming a vengeful billionaire crime-fighter with martial arts skills.

In a world with rising youth unemployment, that sounds like a big ask to me.

The one redeeming feature of Batman Live is that it is not a musical.

So at no point will Selena Kyle sing I'm Going to Wash Batman Right Out of My Hair and the Joker won't launch into a final chorus of Sit Down, You're Rocking the Bat.

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