Cat and Mouse at Village Underground
Paul Barritt’s 1927 Theatre Company have presented yet another punchy and wildly inventive installation, as they return to the stage in their latest production, Cat and Mouse. A satirical nod to the familiar rodent-feline relationship played out across much of today’s entertainment culture, the immersive show smartly questions the boundaries of good vs evil and boldly asks us: Whose side are you on?
Playing homage to George Herriman’s influential Krazy Kat cartoon strip of the 1900s and with innovative direction and animation from Barritt himself, we’re introduced, through art and sound, to a familiar dichotomy of Cat and Mouse on a projected backdrop hanging in full audience view. Emerging from the big bang, our animal protagonists take us on a brief journey through evolution, arriving at the emergence of civilisation and navigating the extremes of human idiocy; from art to war, from technology to industry and from love to hate.
In a particularly clever sequence entitled “The Magic Bean”, we’re given a glimpse into the makings of technology and how it’s harnessed for the greater good. Nurtured by the cat, a series of clever drawings indicate that the bean’s powers are used to develop science, further communication and give access to the world of music and arts. However, with a loud cry of “stupid cat” from our charismatic narrator, played by Lesley Ewen, the mouse and villain in this story swipes the bean and prompts a downward spiral into technology’s darkest uses.
It’s these subtle interludes that at first take appear comical, yet scatter the narrative and boldly echo a society we’re so familiar with today. Holding a mirror up to our morals, an audience can relate to the actions of both characters – whether good or bad in intention. In most scenarios, the innocent and happy cat falls short of the mouse’s tricks, yet the stroke of inspiration comes as we’re chillingly reminded that one simply cannot exist without the other.
The one-hour long set is made more dramatic by a jazzy musical score from an ensemble entitled The Officer Pup Band, while Village Underground’s converted warehouse setting plays perfect host to the production in its natural gig-style environment. Overall, this is truly a mesmerising performance that had our toes tapping and minds reeling, and although theatre-goers remain on their feet throughout, this piece would no doubt be worthy of a standing ovation in its own right.
Photo: Matt Humphrey
Cat and Mouse is at Village Underground on 8th and 9th June and at Latitude Festival from 13th until 16th July 2017, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Cat and Mouse here: