Forty years ago, at the height of Thatcherite excess, Lloyd Webber's trailblazing but empty-headed roller-skating trains proved a hit for the times.

You may think we prefer our musical theatre somewhat deeper these days, but here it is again, twice as outrageous and absurd - immersive, event theatre dialled up to 11.

Seated in islands surrounded by runways, with laser-tracked skaters whooshing around you, you might shake your head at the succession of pastiche songs, and paper-thin plot about whether underdog steam train Rusty will, ahem, pull fickle first-class carriage Pearl, and win the race.

Jeevan Braich as Rusty and the cast of Starlight ExpressJeevan Braich as Rusty and the cast of Starlight Express (Image: Pamela Raith)

But with jets of steam, flames shooting X Factor-like from oil drums to a deafening soundtrack and a young cast giving it their all, it's such an all-encompassing assault on the senses that you just have to go with this technically audacious slice of pure entertainment.

Designer Tim Hatley and his team have transformed the barn-like former television studios into the space-age 'Starlight auditorium,' twinkling with LED lights, lasers, projections, twirling planets, and a death-defying skate-park drop where trick scooter riders perform flips and criss-cross the stage.

Gabriella Slade's futuristic costumes, complete with light-up backpacks and in the case of Electra (Tom Pigram) an 1980s glam vibe with inflatable AC/DC symbols, are camply eye-popping.

Jeevan Braich and Jaydon Vijn as Hydro in Starlight ExpressJeevan Braich and Jaydon Vijn as Hydro in Starlight Express (Image: Pamela Raith)

And Tim Hatley, with original choreographer Arlene Phillips as creative advisor, manages to get the cast grooving on roller skates, with Jaydon Vijn's Hydra a standout mover.

The story is now cutely framed as a young child's dreamscape, with (on our night) a clear-voiced Cristian Butacci urging a race-off between their toy diesel, electric and steam trains.

It is Momma, (Jade Marvin) who tucks him into bed, becomes Rusty's protective matriarch, and delivers two belters: Momma's Blues, and the gospel tinged finale Light at the End of The Tunnel.

Jeevan Braich is the under-confident Rusty - 'believe in yourself' is possibly the show's sole three-word message as he sweetly sings the uplifting title track.

Working with thin material, Kayna Montecillo proves herself a pop princess with standout duets Whistle at Me and jaunty love song I Do.

Lyrics have been updated with references to Net Zero, but with a score that takes in glam rock, country, rap, blues and pop; cutting edge stage effects; and a futuristic, abstract setting, the show hasn't dated.

Like the skaters, the two-plus hours whizz by, in fact there isn't time for the bookend scene of the boy waking up, presumably exhausted from his brain-fizzing imaginative exertions.

After Disney's Newsies at the Troubadour, it's good too to see another West End quality show drawing audiences 10 stops up the line to Wembley Park.