The Cat’s Paw
TASA on line Review
The Cat's Paw. Spotlight Thatre Company
Saturday, 23 June 2012 12:51
Reviewed by RICHARD LANE June23 2012.
This production of Christine Croyden's "The Cat's Paw" has broken the mould of plays presented by Spotlight, normally only producing new plays not staged before.This play was given an airing by the Hoy Polloy Theatre in Melbourne, but at least it is new for Adelaide
The plot is a simple one about a middle-aged man Paul, hiring a private investigator Esther, to locate his wife.who has scarpered with her lover. Esther encourages Paul to visit Brigid, a prostitute, and he later discovers that Esther is the lesbian partner of Brigid. This leads him to becoming embroiled in the life of Brigid and learning about prostitutes' disconnection from "normal" society, and the huge risks that being "on the game" entails.
The action takes place in the sleazy St Kilda district, the main acting area being set squarely on the St Kilda tram track. Behind this, an ugly three metre scaffold is set , creaking noisily every time its permanent heavenly occupant, the Angel moves.
As Paul, the confused husband who has become involved with the life of prostitute Brigid, Damien White occasionally looks the part, but spends too much time delivering his dialogue to the floor
Beau Anderson as Brigid looks gorgeous, but doesn't have a hard enough edge for a hooker.
Acting honours go to Joanna Webb with a strong performance as Esther the manipulative private investigator cum pimp.
Anna Bampton as Monica, Shannon Gray as the Angel and Maxine Grubel as Abigail, all turn in tolerable performances in support.
Adelaide Theatre Guideon Line Review
THE CAT’S PAW
Spotlight Theatre Company
Holden Street Theatres
Until 30 June 2012
By Emma Size
On the highest level of two sets of raw scaffolds, a barefoot angel dressed in only a thin white dress and feathery wings cowers in the corner. As the audience trickle in to the studio of Holden Street Theatres, The Angel starts to walk around her perch with slight trepidation, and occasionally peers over the edge of her lookout to see the stage of St. Kilda bathed in purplish hues below. This is the promising opening for “The Cat’s Paw”, a show that valiantly tries to find something new and poignant to say about the sex industry, but comes up short.
The cast are mostly competent and show a fair amount of potential, but on the opening night seemed to be holding back a few nerves and perhaps didn’t give their best performances. The monologues generally lack direction and purpose, therefore the most engaging scenes are those involving interaction within the ensemble. Damien White as the endearingly awkward Paul and Beau Anderson as confused Brigid are quite captivating together, and Maxine Grubel gives a commendable portrayal of ordinary Abigail, impressing the audience with her consistent and believable characterisation. Joanna Webb also has many good moments as the conniving Esther, displaying a solid range of emotions in contrast to some of her fellow cast member’s two dimensional performances. Shannon Gray’s (The Angel) Irish accent is quite impressive but frequently difficult to understand, and it is unclear why she even has the accent to begin with.
The main issue is not with the cast, set design, or lighting. Indeed, Shannon Norfolk’s set design is practical, designed well to prevent errors in blocking and appropriately urban with its stripped back scaffolds and train tracks on the floor. Tony Moore’s lighting design excellently conveys the sordid nature of the play; however, his sound is overpowering and detracts from the performance. The song choice isn’t poor; however, playing music during every scene change seems excessive and does the show a disservice by not allowing thoughts and ideas from recently finished scenes to resonate.
The biggest issue with the play however is the script. There is some interesting exploration of who is in control of a transaction in the sex industry, and whether the client or worker profits more, but overall there is not enough captivating dialogue to keep the show from dragging. Sex workers, seedy underworlds, and anything related to sex in general has been explored extensively in theatre, television and film, and unfortunately Christine Croyden has written a play which struggles to investigate anything new, and just provides a basic plot that struggles to move through the motions.
There is potential within the cast and crew, and Kristin Telfer has put in a good effort in her directorial debut, however there are a few quite powerful elements which work against the success of this particular show.
And if you've read this far there are still tickets available for all performances.
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