By Peter May
As far as Bollywood films go, they usually follow a similiar narrative to the last, but it’s the colourful razzle dazzle which draws the crowd. London’s last stab at getting a West End hit with the genre was with Beyond Bollywood, but sadly it belly flopped over at the London Palladium when it opened a couple of years ago. Taj Express fairs much better here, for this time the plot is a humourous parody of a typical Bollywood script. The show takes the audience into the creative world of Shankhar, a struggling songwriter hired to write the hits for his first Bollywood blockbuster.
The task at hand requires him to write all the songs for tough guy Arjen, and his heroinne love interest Kareena.There is a huge cast involving nearly thirty dancers, all swirling around in perfect synch and harmony with each other. The dancing is excellent, a nice mix of classicical Indian dance forms fused with Western styles. The staging is minimal but the lighting and colourful kaleidoscope video images more than make up for a sparse set. There is a wonderful scene where a dancer dances solo in the rain that makes great use of the effects on offer. In a time where theres so much doom and gloom in the news, this is a great escape for a couple of hours to put a smile back on your face.
Until 2 July, Peacock Theatre
Bat Out of Hell
When Meatloaf first watched this musical based around his legacy, he was apparently moved to tears. No mean feat particularly for a rock superstar, for this is a no holds barred, loud banger of a show. Michael Lee Adam (aka Meatloaf) has teamed up with musical partner Jim Steinman to bring his bestselling album to the stage, 40 years after it was first released.
Bat out of Hell is set in a dystopian city and follows a gang leader who falls in love with a tyrannical ruler’s daughter Raven. She longs to escape her tedious life, where one night Strat visits her home and we fall down the rabbit hole of zaniness where things get even more crazy.
Fans with hopes of seeing the rock icon in this will be disappointed as he doesn’t star in it and apart from its namesake, the show includes hit songs like You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad and I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). The gang leader is rebellious Strat, who lurks around his underground lair, trying to hide away from his dark overlord Falco. The story has a touch of Romeo & Juliet and Peter Pan all rolled into one, which becomes evident particularly when a love story unfolds.
The staging is unlike any other at the moment around London, where the vast stage of the Coliseum is scattered with roaring Harley Davidsons, vast scenery with the right amount of pyrotechnics to add further impact. Dialogue between actors is a tad corney at times, but it’s the songs and spectacle, which are the main highlights. This is a musical that does exactly what it says on the tin and if you are looking for a non-apologetic extravaganza this is the show for you.
Until Aug 22, London Coliseum