It takes a special kind of dementia, to take a creepy, somewhat cynical, depraved yet heartfelt piece like Bat Boy the Musical, and do justice to it on the stage. Outcry Theatre has that marvelous, intelligent, yet rare dementia. You can’t let the audience know you’re in on the joke. The performers must be utterly convincing and convinced, yet we, in the audience, are never quite sure when it’s OK to laugh. Ironically, I can think of few times (if any) when laughter is inappropriate. You see, the creators of Bat Boy (Keyth Farley and Brian Flemming (Book) Laurence O’Keefe (Music and Lyrics) don’t deny that Edgar, the Bat Boy is a freak of nature, who deserves our sympathy. They just also happen to find the situation hilariously funny.
The Bat Boy has struck fear into the hearts of the townsfolk, though he truly means no harm. He is taken into the home of Dr. Thomas and Meredith Parker, and their teenage daughter Shelley. The Parkers feed, clothe, and educate Edgar in the social graces, which he absorbs with facility and gratitude. Against the veterinarian’s better judgment, Meredith and Shelley take Edgar to a revival. While the Bat Boy has a brief taste of acceptance, the social experiment soon turns into a debacle and the congregation, a lynch mob. Before it’s all over, the depth of the Parker family’s dysfunction will be explored, as well as the limitations of Christian tolerance and Edgar’s dubious conception.
Outcry Theatre has staged Bat Boy the Musical, with its layers of satire, deliciously distasteful content, humanity, and (so repugnant it’s ridiculous) transgression, and transmogrified it into an insanely improbable evening of comic delight. An innocent lab assistant is molested by bats, woodland creatures sing and engage in sexual congress, drag costuming consists of glasses and a wig. You find yourself thinking you shouldn’t laugh, but it happens anyway. What could be better? This kind of (so awful it’s great) humor is in vogue lately, you can find it nearly everywhere. But few have the chops, savvy, and pitch perfect gift for tone that Outcry does. They carry it off with fluid, intuitive finesse. Needless to say, October is the perfect time of year to enjoy this brilliant, juicy lunacy. It will tickle you to the bone.
Outcry Theatre presents Bat Boy the Musical, playing through October 6th- 15th, 2017. Black box at WaterTower Theatre. 15650 Addison Road, Addison, Texas 75001. (972) 836-7206. www.outcrytheatre.com