When I was an adolescent, achingly aspiring and ambitious to ambulate out of Unfunky Scummedrine, my anthem album was Meatloaf's "Bat out of Hell." It articulated all my inchoate longings: get out of this one horse town, full of small, mean minds and miserly hearts, which, like Mr. Grinch's, were two sizes too small.
I bought the album, then, years later, the tape, then, the CD. It spoke to me. I would listen to the opening notes of the first song, "Bat out of Hell" and the narrator too, wanted out of his Unfunky Scummedrine. "Nothing ever grows in this rotten little hole...and maybe I'm damned if I never get out...and maybe I'm damned if I do..." It spoke of finding true love, and gender differences ("Paradise by the Dashboard Light") How women want true love, men want biological release, and concordia discors ("Will you love me forever? Let me sleep on it....I want to know right now....will you love me forever. Will you make me your wife....I swore I would love you to the end of time. And now I'm praying for the end of time....so I can end my time with you." The poignant, "Heaven can Wait." The funny intros. "Will you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses."
It seemed to promise something to me. That I could find my bershert. Find someone who got me. Achieve my romantic and intellectual desires. Live some sort of smart cosmopolitan compromise. Witty repartee. Intellectual fulfillment. Money. Sex.
What do women want? If we listen to the Wife of Bath (and we ought to), women want the choosing.
All of which has little to do with "Bat out of Hell," the Broadway play. I have moved out of time and the play moved me not. Why does everything have to be set in some sort of zombie, orcish apolocolytic hell inspired by Goth lovers? I pictured not the apolocolypse, but Erte all the time I listened to the album as a achingly lonely adolescence. Not ragged compadres but cosmopolitans out of an RKO musical. Certes, not an attempt to star cross the orcs (Freezers) and the last human family (Raven, mother, and father), who live apart from the orcs in Falco Tower with their nurse, Zahara (who turns out to be a Freezer). There is always a nurse to aid the lovers and gin the plot. Zahara is an interesting character who never gets her star turn. Zahara, out of nothing at all, means "gold" in Hebrew.
Otherwise, it is in the traditional coming of age story. It begins on Raven's 18th birthday. She hates her parents, loves the Freezer boy Strad (who, as a Freezer, remains 18 forever). Strad, sadly, doesn't resemble the orc/goth he dresses as. He is blond, pale (but not unearthly so). He looks more like a tubercular hero out of "La Boheme." Raven sings of her hatred for her parents, who keep her, like Rapunzel, locked away (Security being shockingly bad at Falco towers, as she manages to get out and mingle with the Freezers, and they seem to come and go inside with more ease than the proverbial milkmen of yore). It's all so Freudian. One duet with her mother--they alternate between, "I hate you/I love you" as the mother attempts to smother Raven with a pillow. Father attempts to sedate Raven to seclude her. Father and Mother, though deeply ambivalent about each other, sing a love duet to each other. Think of Edna and Wilbur's "Your timeless to me," only with no wit and no cunning dance moves. With Zahara's help, Strad enters the tower and the two elope to "The Deep End," where they wed. And subsequently, Raven changes her garb to resemble nothing so much but a Goth diaper duo: loose charcoal grey diapers with a dingy charcoal tee. Then, enter, one of the Lost Boys (Tink!! As in what, Tinkerbell), who goes to Falco Tower and enlists the father's help to kidnap Raven and remove her, so Tink can have Strad. And everything can be as it is "meant" to be. Daddy and his little girl. Tink and his dad Strad. No one will have sex! Clap your hands if you believe in fairies.
Gosh. Will Tink succeed? Will Daddy never accept his daughter can have sex and still be his little girl? Will Raven understand she can have sex and still love Dad? Will the Freezer's and the Falco's coexist into a cooperative combination? Or will it all combust and they can go back to Hell?
Remember, this is a comedy. But it is not the narrative I envisioned all those eons ago. I guess I thought I loved out, but it was made out of nothing at all.