14 May 2014

Enjoyable Cats at New Wimbledon Theatre

Oddly enough it was curiosity that made me want to see Cats.

My curiosity was over the show's popularity and longevity.

However, I have never been that interested in the new block-buster west-end musicals that have appeared in the last thirty years or so and the only other one that I had seen previously, Les Miserables, I found laughingly bad.

I would never have thought of going to see Cats without a firm prompt that firm prompt came in the disguise of discounted tickets via work (as it had for Les Miserables). As far as I can tell, good Stalls tickets were going for just over £40, plus various fees, whereas I paid £15 for seat D3. At that price I could afford to experiment and to make a mistake.

It helped that it was at the New Wimbledon Theatre too as that was just two easy (and cheap) bus rides away.

Cats was light on story, strong on production (movement, set, costumes, etc.) and quite good on words and music. I even recognised a couple of the songs and the most famous of them, Memory (a top 10 hit for Elaine Paige in 1981), was included twice.

Being based on a series of poems, Cats was a series of scenes which the show tried to string together to make some sort of story but that was both unsuccessful and unnecessary. It worked well enough as a series of performances on a shared theme.

I expected the lyrics to be good as T S Eliot wrote most of them but I was surprised at how much I liked Andrew Lloyd Webber's music. Only one of the songs annoyed me and all the rest were pleasant enough and the music never got in the way of the words.

Most of the audience seemed to have seen Cats before and while I can understand why they do that it is not something that I would rush to do. It was all very clever and professional but having seen it once I doubt if there are any hidden depths that would reward a second visit. As a once-off it was a very enjoyable evening and I was content as a cat with cream.

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