Linus Karp is something of a showcat. He bounces on to the stage at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre with an outstretched arm and a lively meow, and thus begins an hour of silliness inspired by the 2019 movie musical of Cats.
You may recall my absolute hatred of said film (reviewed here), and Linus’s spirited defence of it in the interview I ran with him last month (read here). It’s very much a Marmite movie. I’m not licking my paws.
By visiting most of the cat characters introduced as Jellicles in the film and identifying their key characteristics, we learn quickly how we can become Jellicles ourselves. Along the way we have lots of laughter, a heap of audience participation, and a liberal use of a slideshow and video clips.
There are digs-a-plenty. There are discussions about which cats are the sexiest (clue – it isn’t Macavity), and observations about the longevity of our national treasures who don fur coats to become feline fascinators (Judi Dench, Ian McKellen).
How To Live a Jellicle Life works whether you have seen the film of Cats or not, although obviously having some recognition of names and faces will work in your favour and your level of enjoyment.
This is a show which revels in its queerness and high camp, and is all the better for it. Whether it will make Tom Hooper’s “film” (as described in The Guardian) a cult classic in years to come remains to be seen but climb over the initial WTF horror of the movie musical misfire, and a second or third viewing may be far more entertaining.
Watch Cats at home and play the Jellicle game for yourself. Are you kind? Are you sexy? Are you James Corden? Are you a supporter of all the great causes of equality and the environment? Can you see in the dark? Hours of fun await.
There’s a routine or two that goes on a bit (mainly involving Taylor Swift) but the bulk of this show is very funny, delivered by a combination of Karp’s physical presence and Sam Carlyle’s lively voiceover, with a highlight being a jaw-dropping American PIF from the 1980s.
How To Live a Jellicle Life promises “life lessons from the movie musical Cats” and it delivers in spades, with a sprinking of pussy and penis jokes, a wake for dear old Gus the ancient luvvie, and a lot of laughs.
It continues at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre until 5 June and plans further performances in Cambridge (Town and Gown), Birmingham (Old Joint Stock), Poole (Lighthouse) and Bristol (Alma) into mid-July.
Image credit: Dave Bird
LouReviews received complimentary tickets to review How To Live a Jellicle Life.