Riverside Studios (studio)
25 March 2023 (released)
25 March 2023
Killing the cat is an original story, written by Warner Brown and directed by Jenny Eastop, which follows two couples each attempting to navigate their opposing beliefs. Can they put their differences aside, or will they sacrifice their relationships? Is knowledge empowering, or can you be too curious?
Maggie, played by Madalena Alberto, is a devout atheist and renowned biologist, who depicts humans as ‘functioning chemical reactions’ in her literary-works. Whilst holidaying in Livorno, Italy, she meets Luke, played by Tim Rogers, a British expat who works on the local market - and it’s lust at first sight. Luke believes that souls transcend the human body and is motivated by faith so Maggie initially attempts to hide her incessant need for certainty. However, Luke inevitably finds out and the two must solve their issues or walk away.
Meanwhile; another couple, Heather and Connor are holidaying in the same place. Heather, played by Molly Lynch, is an open-minded Irish hippie, who - rather bizarrely - hears the voices of dead poets. Connor, played by Joaquin Pedro Valdes, is an American, stone-cold realist, who suffers with ‘existential angst’. They too, must figure out their differences.
The two couples' paths intertwine and they end up mediating each other’s problems - this is a story of relational resilience.
The staging and set remained consistent throughout the show and had been crafted to supposedly represent Livorno. It appeared as an amalgamation of a marble labyrinth and the white steps of Santorini. The monochromatic design was the perfect choice for the ongoing existential argument, simultaneously having connotations of both the stairway to heaven and a science laboratory.
One of the highlights for me was, Set & Costume Designer - Lee Newby’s decision to position the musicians on stage. Dressed all in white and spread equidistantly across the entire stage, the cello, keyboard and electric drums formed part of the set, adding an ethereal quality. The musicians blended perfectly into the background, but their passion, skill and occasional interaction with the actors put them center stage. It was extremely refreshing to witness the musicians enjoying themselves, and personally, I never want to see them in the pit again. Moreover, the sound was faultless.
The standout of this show was the seamless transitioning between dialogue and song. The cast did such a phenomenal job of switching between solo, discussion, duet, argument, and back to solo again, that it was contagious and I witnessed some of the audience singing their conversations during the interval and after the show.
The finale to this show was executed brilliantly. Whilst the characters approached some heavy topics, the singing dialogue kept it whimsical in nature - I particularly liked the number with the supporting cast dressed in lab coats, which had parallels to the UmpaLumpas in the Chocolate Factory. The script was packed with expletives and some of the jokes were genuinely quite funny. This musical was perfectly suited to Hammersmith Riverside Studios, but I think it could be equally at home on Broadway.
My main critique is that despite the individuals’ immense talent and the strong duets, the chemistry between the leading couple wasn’t particularly convincing and seemed slightly forced. Furthermore; the rigmarole of the circular argument did verge on tedious.
Overall, I really enjoyed this thoroughly modern musical. With tickets at £30, it’s a little pricey, but for 2 hours of quality entertainment it’s worth a watch. The show runs at Riverside Studios from 17 March to 22 April 2023.