The Batman Follies of 1929

(source: BMA Mag)

I am waiting in the lobby before the show begins, thinking about how Batman has evolved over the decades. I remember the Batman movie when it was directed by Tim Burton. This helped spawn the Batman The Animated Series was a Gotham set in an art deco eternity, the sleek lines of a golden age, gangsters and Gatsbyan style. The next step in that evolution is to set it back in that era. Hence, this is why I am waiting for The Batman Follies of 1929 to begin. From what I read, the show is based around the old Vaudeville variety shows of yestercentury. Each character of The Batman Follies performs a different routine. Catwoman starts the show with a bit of burlesque. Harley Quinn follow with a bubbly track about being bad. The Penguin has a powerful soul performance. The Riddler runs through a juggling routine, involving hats and cigars. The Scarecrow does a spot of stand-up comedy. And Robin fights some ne’er-do-well, with a series of acrobatic tumbles.

After the intermission, we have a very flexible Batgirl in the contortion act on a rotation platform. Two-Face got the crowd involved with variation of the shell game (the kind with a metal spike) and some slieght-of-hand tricks. Poison Ivy’s routine was short, but powered by the wind. Mister Freeze sang powerfully, of something that reminded me of Con Te Partirò, about his beloved Nora. The Joker delivered a such a manic version of “Make ‘Em Laugh”, it was disturbing. Last of all, the big finish, starting with a burlesque routine of the Batettes and finishing with a Batman that tap-dances up a tempest. Throughout the show is the Gotham City Knights band playing out music of the era; and Alfred Pennyworth as a delightful compère, who also probably got killed with a curtain fell on him.

I will admit that some of the routines seemed a little too short and maybe fell a little flat. But overall, I enjoyed the show. The costumes were top notch (particularly the Batettes) and everything clicked together. The Penguin as a woman in a German cabaret tux and singing soul was a nice touch. The Scarecrow had a suit made out of hessian. The bright colours of the Joker’s make-up was the equal and opposite of the darkness of the character. Batman was that classic kind of Batman, like an early Bob Kane sketch. It was only on for one night, which is a pity, because I’m fairly sure that there are other people that have unfortunately missed out. At least, until it comes back to town…

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