Ambassadors Theatre, London – until 26 April 2017
Gerard McCarthy stars in this one man show that explores the theatre world and what happens if in fact all doesn’t go according to plan. First thing to point out about this show is that unless you have some solid knowledge about how the theatre industry works or have a love of musical theatre then this show probably won’t be for you. However, if you do then you are in for a real treat with Gerard McCarthy’s brilliant parody of all things theatre – with a sinister ending that really packs a punch.
All Dave has ever really wanted in life is to be a performer on stage and Cat the Play follows his countless attempts to become part of some of the biggest shows in the West End including Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar – building up to his opening night performance in Cats.
Throughout, McCarthy gives an insight into the world of theatre that general theatregoers don’t get to see: the egos among the cast, the hours of rehearsals as well as the hardships of the audition process. Every detail that he provides offers a vivid even if perhaps slightly exaggerated insight into just how hard it is to get a break into theatre and show business, almost acting like a caution to anyone hoping to get into it.
But on the other side of this, Cat the Play is also a showcase for many of the great musicals (with a focus on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work) that while gently mocks them, also is a firm statement on how strong the London theatre business is.
Filled with countless stories and songs (with some extremely unusual lyrics) many of which apparently didn’t make the original productions of the musicals, Cat the Play’s script by Jamie Beamish and Richard Hardwick can get a little bit carried away and lack focus at certain points, occasionally repeating itself that wears the joke thin – particularly when it comes to the way in which Dave was cut from each show he was working on. But for the most part, the script is cleverly constructed, filled with little references to musical theatre songs that delight the audience.
Gerard McCarthy’s performance is sharp and brutally honest. He is able to use pauses constantly to great effect, to generate the audience’s sympathy with his troubles with the white cat or by the end to show his simmering anger and frustration that apparently leads to terrible decisions. He is an engaging storyteller from beginning to end.
Overall, Cat the Play is a perfect show for those either trying to get into the world of theatre or for those already in it, a great mixture of a wicked sense of humour combined with a underlying hint of tension and darker side to Dave’s character. A wonderful tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber and the world of musical theatre or as Dave says: “real theatre” !