Tristan Bates Theatre, London – until 16 February 2019
Not going to lie. This devised piece – which was 60 minutes straight through – was not what I was expecting. It can be quite difficult to critique such a short play, but I spent more time laughing at Americat than being emotionally moved as I had anticipated. (This was quite a relief!)
The autobiographical show focuses on real-life couple Scott Kettner and Amy Elliot, who are navigating a transatlantic relationship. A tad relatable personally, I must admit. However, the piece isn’t tragic and instead pokes fun at various scenarios. It’s surrealist in tone and quite often you’re left wondering… am I in the play or an audience member watching? Situating the action in such a small space like the Tristan Bates helps with this intention, even if, at times, you start to feel muddled.
As the two leads, Kettner reminds me of a young Robin Williams because of his physical energy. He’s the driving force behind the pace of the show and is entertaining. In contrast, Elliot is calmer and, in the more poignant moments, she adds a sense of gravitas to the performance.
If Americat was a chocolate – it would be something bittersweet.
The pair met on an acting course and, for those of us who have gone through the saga of auditioning for drama schools, there’s plenty to relate to. (I was experiencing traumatic flashbacks to Shakespeare speeches!) As the drama school teacher, George Eggay is absolutely hilarious in conveying the persona of each institution.
The rest of the company comprise of Amin Ali, AJ Jeremiah, Christian Alifoe and Rory Grant, who also all shine as a Greek Chorus to the action unfurling onstage. Their knowing looks to the audience feel very Brechtian, and I appreciate how hard this is to do. They often steal the limelight with their comedy; I wish I had seen even more of them.
With a haunting melody of You Are My Sunshine closing this hour of high frolics,Americat is a devastating reminder of the lengths some people will go to in fighting for their relationship.
It isn’t your typical schmaltzy Valentine’s Day-themed play, nor should it be. It’s honest, a bit bonkers and memorable. I think there’s a lot of potential to build on – perhaps an Act Two from Amy’s perspective? If Americat was a chocolate – it would be something bittersweet. I’m thinking a dark chocolate with raspberry…
Americat: A Love Story… Really? Runs from 12 to 16 February 2019 at Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower Street, London WC3H 9NP, with nightly performances (one hour) at 6.15pm. Tickets are priced £10 (concessions £8). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!