Review: Cats @ WMC
I learned the true meaning of the phrase “all that glitters is not gold” as the fourth longest-running musical on the West End, Cats, crawled onto the stage at the beautiful Wales Millennium Centre.
The world famous, award-winning show is in its 33rd year and offers glossy choreography and eye-catching costume as its two principal highlights. And when I say principal, I mean only.
The production of Cats is based on T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats and in a string of musical numbers simply introduces different characters within a tribe of cats called the Jellicles. The clan, who are about to decide which cat will come back to a new life, are formulaically presented in a plot-less two-and-a-half hours of frighteningly tiresome lyrical posturing. The rare moments of humour or sadness are as pawfully predictable as that cat-based pun I just made.
In a production with less storyline than a Teletubbies episode, at least the score is strong? Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the musical arrangements are tired and bland, with the famous Memory the only memorable melody that is repeated enough times throughout the forest of tedious arrangements to drive me into fits of incredulity. While the cast and orchestra do a perfectly neat job with the material at hand, their valiant efforts fail to bring this relic of a show ashore to the 21st century.
In anticipation of the Cardiff run, I chatted to cast member Clare Rickard who returned to her hometown as the character Jellylorum. She revealed that the cast all studied cats to ensure that the movements were realistic, stylised representations and this was one of the major successes of the otherwise drawn-out ensemble pieces.
Independent theatre director from Cardiff, Marc Lewis, sums up my view of the production - “People think Cats is highbrow so are scared to say that actually this is more of Lloyd Webber's self-important vomit”.
Dated, irrelevant and far too long for its own, Cats should have been left in the eighties.
Cats is at Wales Millennium Centre till Saturday 9th August 2014. Tickets range from £19.50 - £56.50. Age Guidance: 5+ (no under 2s). For more information visit www.wmc.org.uk or call the ticket office on 02920 636464
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