Tue 5 Jul 2016
Cats is a musical based on a book of poems from the 1930s called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Elliot. It’s quite an unusual show. There are no human characters, only cats. There is only a loose narrative, and not only is it a sung-through musical with no spoken word, but it’s also completely danced-through. I saw it many years ago and was pleased to go back last night for the latest production at Edinburgh Playhouse.
The basic idea is that we join a tribe of Jellicle Cats on a special night when they all come together to celebrate who they are. Then, at the end of the night, their leader Old Deuteronomy must choose one cat to be reborn into a new life.
Each cat has a different personality, which they describe with their own song. For example, Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer are pranksters, Macavity is a notorious criminal, Magical Mister Mistoffeles is a conjurer. Also, in this new version, Rum Tum Tugger is a rap star! And Grizabella is a washed up old Glamour Cat, now shunned by the rest of the tribe.
The choreography, based on ballet, is absolutely brilliant – the movements are very elegant and cat-like. The costumes are spectacular. Also the set, props, lighting, everything is visually amazing. Of course, the music is wonderful. And the performers – I don’t know how they can dance and sing live like that! My only negative comment would be that without much of a narrative, the show did feel a bit too long.
Cats is a very unique and memorable show with stunning visuals and music, plus extremely talented performers. It’s on at Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday and then it continues its tour of the UK.