Old Anglo-Catholic T.S. Eliot would have mixed feelings about Cats' status as the West End equivalent of the Tridentine Mass: an amazing spectacle, but one whose origins are lost in the mists of antiquity and which is incomprehensibly pointless to modern folk. Actually, it's quite warming to see such a hangover from the in-your-face legacy of the punk/Fame era – a cast clad in white unitards decorated by marker pen, and the occasional random furry leg-warmer.
The staging in the round and relentless use of the auditorium, though, make the experience paradoxically not more immediate but more gratuitous. Add a plot you could write on the back of a postage stamp and still have room for Paradise Lost, and a score that's, well, unmistakably Andrew Lloyd Webber, and you know what you're in for. I dunno, maybe it counts as a penance...
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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