In 1968 legendary theatre practitioner Peter Brook wrote about the concept of Deadly Theatre, describing it as theatre that not only fails to elevate or instruct, it hardly even entertains.
Had he been writing 40 years later, Brook could have dispensed with the term Deadly Theatre and just referred to Cats instead.
When it first opened in the early 1980s, Cats was no doubt an impressive show but those days are long gone – it’s time to forget the memories of what it was and move on.
Lumpen, meandering and filled with interminable opera-lite sequences, Cats is a perfect example of a musical that has failed to stand the test of time. It’s not the cast’s fault; but there is only so much can be done with such a tired show.
Set, costumes, choreography and lighting are still fantastic, while the impressive opening number establishes the tone for what should be a gripping production, but what follows is an incomprehensible mess.
The plot hardly exists, the tunes (bar the obvious exception) entirely forgetful, and the singsong dialogue painful to interpret. Cats still looks wonderful but is a solid gold example of style over substance.
They shoot horses don’t they? But the question of what to do with a mange-ridden cat is a far more pressing concern.