Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell: The Musical is a high-octane show that has a way of staying with you long after the curtain closes. The songs are taken from Meatloaf’s 1977 debut album, Bat Out of Hell, which provided a narrative about love and teenage angst for a generation of rock-and-roll fans. Director Jay Scheib, best-known for contemporary stagings of classical and contemporary works, has combined straightforward musical theater elements with avant-garde practices (such as a handheld camera that isolates and projects the faces of the characters in situ). The overall affect is of a raucous rock musical that captures the spirit of a concept album.
The two WASPish couples at the center of Sarah Ruhl’s sexy/bonkers magical realist tragicomedy How to Transcend a Happy Marriage could have walked in from any number of other American plays. You know the type: they read The Atlantic, wear Joy Division T-shirts un-ironically, start each new year by reading a play, and fall over themselves to avoid the appearance of political incorrectness. Their living rooms are the familiar battlegrounds of bourgeois drama from Akhtar to Zola. The bloody goat carcass suspended over David Zinn’s set, though, makes it clear that we’re in the Ruhl-iverse, and little about the next two hours will be business-as-usual.