Theatre review: Cats − Fangs for the Memories

PUBLISHED: 17:17 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:18 25 October 2018

Cats is at the Playhouse theatre until Saturday.

Cats is at the Playhouse theatre until Saturday.

Archant

Weston Operatic Society is feline delighted after tickets for all five shows of its four-day run of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, which opened at The Playhouse last night (Wednesday), completely sold out for the first time ever.

The theatre group might be classed as amateur but not one of its audience members noticed it wasn’t a West End show, as cast and crew made purrfect use of all of its 100 years of experience to take on the mammoth task of bringing the well-loved musical to life.

Based on T S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the story is set among a junkyard playground and is about its inhabitants – a gang of alleycats called The Jellicles. They go out to play on one special night of the year, the Jellicle Ball, where one by one they tell their stories for the amusement of Old Deuteronomy, their wise leader. He must choose one of them to ascend to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a new life.

I had never seen the show before but had always wanted to after studying Eliot’s poems for my English literature A level. And despite the storyline being as tricky to decipher as the actual poems, the sheer level of enthusiasm and expertise thrown into the production, along with the audience’s obvious affection for it, was acutely infectious.

The rousing songs, including the iconic Memories, were belted out with more gusto than you could shake a clawed-paw at and the full-on dance and gymnastic routines were mesmerising and within a fur’s whisker of being in sync from where I was sitting.

I took my 10-year-old animal-loving son with me because he asked to go, although I was concerned he would be disappointed it wasn’t exactly a Disney musical but he was soon humming along to the songs and declared his favourite cat was Macavity, so I needn’t have worried.

The set, complete with concealed flashing eyes among the rubbish and a stairway to The Heaviside Layer, was clever, as were the pyrotechnics and dry ice effects.

Every performance was polished – it was evident the actors had really got into the mindset of their cat characters from the rhythmic movements as they continually flowed around the stage, to the constant grooming of themselves, and each other.

In all it was a very enjoyable show and you’ll be spitting fur balls if you haven’t managed to book a seat.

Cats will be performed at The Playhouse, in High Street, until Saturday at 7.30pm, with a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday.

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