Review: Cats

Edinburgh Playhouse 4 – 9 Jul 16
The King’s Theatre 13 – 17 Sep 16

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

Bursting with light, song and fabulous dancing – Cats slinks onto the stage to bring T.S. Eliot’s poetry to life.

Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s composition stands the test of time with 23 years of Broadway fame on its side – I challenge you not to come away humming at least one of those cat-chy tunes! The set and costumes remain true to their original form, with some fancy lighting for full impact on the dramatic scenes.

A family show to the core, Cats is much more about the great visuals and on-stage talent than story. Greg Castiglioni gives a magnetic, seasoned and engaging performace as Asparagus The Theatre Cat/ Growl Tiger. He embodies these roles with love, and what a voice! Megan Armstrong as Bombalurina (saucy red cat) shows great presence throughout, her incredibly expressive and pure voice erupting each time she sings, particularly during the song ‘McCavity’.

It goes without saying that an update on a modern classic, with the bulk of a following being based on childhood nostalgia, is a dangerous game – BUT sadly and through no fault of actor Marcquelle Ward (who gave it his all), the rapping re-write of Rum Tum Tugger’s song and character fell especially flat. What Webber had intended to be a ‘contemporary street cat’, with some odd hip hop music and forced moves; comes across more like a window into the future of Dizzy Rascal attempting to re-vamp his career with the good people of Butlins. It is clunky and misplaced in what is essentially a purely synth-driven musical celebrating cats and the 80s.

Marvel at the performers as they somehow somersault and sing at the same time; let your eyes water at the level of pure, unadulterated glitter fest that is Mr Mistoffelees and admire the magic of great use of props and set.

Take your kids, join in, dress up, and enjoy this harmless, sweet and fun piece of feline-friendly theatre.