Review: Cats, The Marlowe, Canterbury

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Choreographer: Gillian Lynne

Director: Trevor Nunn

Originally Posted:

#Tweetingit: Review in 140 characters – A timeless classic which both adults and children alike will love


There is no doubt in my mind that this is a timeless classic. Cats ran for 21 years in London and 18 years on Broadway, making it the second longest running show ever on Broadway. It has won 7 Tonys and 2 Olivier Awards, has been made into a film and performed all over the world. Adults and children alike can enjoy something about this show. The last time I saw it, I was 12. I loved the giant junk yard set; spotting bits of old household furniture, enlarged to show the perspective of the cats, the actors as cats fascinated me with their incredible costumes and make up and well observed feline qualities. Now as an adult, I appreciate the music, the words and dance. I never realised before how balletic the show is, how demanding it must be on the cast and how impressive it is that they can sing some seriously challenging songs and harmonies while leaping around the stage.

However, it appears that this is not the view of many. Most people are either a cat lovers or a dog lovers and matching this trend are those who either love or hate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical. It seems a lot of people see this as a bit of an odd musical with no real story other than that a group of cats have got together to sing, dance and finally be chosen to be reincarnated – yes that’s right – reincarnated!

The story revolves around a clowder of cats celebrating the jellicle ball. On one night a year the group of Jellicle Cats meet to celebrate and tell stories while waiting for their spiritual leader, Old Deuteronomy, to select one them to journey to the Heaviside Layer and ascend to the next realm. While the cats are waiting for this to happen, the audience are introduced to them all and are told their life stories.

Despite Memory being the number everyone remembers from the show, Mr Mistoffelees is the stand out song of the night. Joseph Pulton as Mr Mistoflees .does an impressive job as the  quintessential ballet dancing cat. Wowing the audience with his wowing the audience with his dance prowess, he certainly matches all of  which the song proclaims about him.

Other exciting numbers include that of the acrobatic and very likeable petty criminals, Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, played excellently portrayed by Benjamin Yates and Dawn Williams. Despite there notable height difference, they worked together to produce some remarkable tumbling and aerobic dancing. While the Gumbie trio, Abigail Jaye, Clare Rickard and Chaelen Ford. pulled off beautiful harmonies with ease, creating a sounds similar to that of The Andrews Sisters. And of course is the opening number – Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats which cannot be forgotten.

The entire cast are seriously accomplished. Away from the lead roles were three in particular who I couldn’t tear my eyes from when they graced the stage. Cassie Clare as Cassandra the Egyptian Sphinx made her professional stage debut in an impressive way wither playful, mysterious and elegant take on the role. While elsewhere in the female cast was some sensational ballet moves from The White Cat – Hannah Kenna Thomas. The “chorus” actor who stood out for me was Alonzo played by Adam Lake. His dancing was perfect, strong and sexy while his flips, tumbles and feline qualities were perfectly performed. I would like to see him in a bigger part on another occasion.

The only criticism I have is that some of the songs are now a tad prosaic. After hearing the first couple of lines you could probably guess most of the rest of the tune especially since many of them have hints of Joseph about them. However, this doesn’t stop them being beautiful songs with some seriously challenging harmonies and high notes.

If you are a fan of musicals, a dance lover or want some nostalgia and a fun and easy show to watch, this is definitely for you. If you want a solid story and narrative then it really isn’t. There’s definitely life in the old Cat yet and I can see it continually falling its feet for a long time to come.

Runs until: Saturday 28th June 2014 and then continues to tour

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury

Director and choreograher: Matthew Bourne

Set and Costume Designer: Lez Brotherston

Lighting Design: Rock Fisher

Sound Design: Ross Brown

Music: Pyotr IlyichTchaikovsky

Originally Posted:

#Tweetingit – My verdict in 140 Characters:

5* A stunning, strong and intense take on a classic. Bourne doing what he does best; creating breath-taking, modern ballet for all to enjoy


Matthew Bourne made his name telling contemporary versions of the classics; his world war II take on Cinderella and a bold re-imagining of the ballet classic, Sleeping Beauty, cramming what is usually not much more than a show piece, with dynamic choreography and a clear narrative line and most famously his powerful, provocative and totally original interpretation of Swan Lake complete with an all male flock of swans, breaking the boundaries of classic style and fashioning a partnership of ballet technique with modern style Matthew Bourne’s productions are like no other ballet. Little pointe work and not a tutu in sight are the first clues to this not being your typical classical ballet. He creates something completely different, something awe inspiring.

Narratives and storytelling are Bourne’s M.O, and he never scrimps when it comes to this side of things. He is very aware of audiences, his aim is to break down the “language of dance”, create new ballets with wide appeal and win over the public. This was certainly the case with Swan Lake, there was no doubt as to what was going on and, judging by the standing ovation, the audience were definitely won over.

The story revolves around a young Prince, emotionally bereft and unsuitable for his public role, he torments himself with his failure and inability to perform his royal duties. With little support from his mother, the queen, and craving love and attention he discovers a new world to inhabit and receive the contact and acceptance he desires – almost a modern ugly duckling

For the first forty or so minutes, however, there is not a swan in sight and actually, very little which resembles ballet as you would know it. Having seen some of these dancers before and knowing their skills and grace, I was itching for them to do what they do best. But these first moments were not about just the dance; the story needed to be woven, each individual thread being placed just so to ensure that the audience were completely drawn in and captivated and entranced by the Matthew Bourne spell.  During the early parts of the performance, there are also some wonderfully comedic moments – the Queen and Prince going to see a ballet with the Prince’s ditzy girlfriend. Matthew Bourne appears to mock classic ballet with its over the top movements and often non-sensical stories.

Finally swans appear. Swan Lake swans usually conjures and image of beautiful graceful women in tutus gliding and twirling across the stage with elegance. Bourne creates a different and actually more realistic version, created by strong, muscular and, for most of the performance, extremely sweaty, men. When the prince approaches the swans, it seems almost like they are a fraternity with an initiation ceremony to fulfil. He won’t be accepted without a fight. They breathe together, they move in unison, almost performing a martial arts kata. They twitch their heads and arch their necks, it is powerful, strong and quite aggressive.  The movements capture the real life version of these beautiful but potentially vicious animals.

There is not a dancer on stage who can be criticised  but a couple of the ensemble stood out; from the men, Luke Jackson was a powerful presence on stage while Katrina Lyndon from the female ensemble was sultry in her princess roles.

And then there are the two leads whose stunning movement makes you hold your breath and feel everything they feel. Liam Mower’s Prince is clearly suffering emotional torment, battling with his feelings desires and inner thoughts. His movements tug at the audience’s emotions while Jonathon Ollivier’s commands the stage in his role as the formidable and passionate Swan. When the Prince and the Swan dance together, it is mesmerising and beautiful making you hold your breath and feel everything they feel. Matthew Bourne has stated that this is often seen as homoerotic but that surely it is actually just erotic? I didn’t even view it like that; these dances, sex unimportant, moved together beautifully, in harmony with real feeling, telling a beautiful story.

The finale is a climatic extravaganza. The vicious and menacing swans take no prisoners as their jealousy of the Prince becoming the favoured one of their alpha male gets too much and they brutally attack him in his bed. The lighting and set add some incredible extra atmosphere during these moments too.This truly chilling, magnificent and ferocious performance is not to be missed.  It doesn’t feel like your “typical” ballet – it is certainly something quite wonderful and over 20 years since it first appeared at Sadler’s Wells it is still as astonishing as it ever has been. Ballet fan or not, I implore you to go to see any of this truly magnificent choreographer’s work.

Matthew Bourne returns to The Marlowe Theatre this September with Lord Of The Flies, featuring eight professional New Adventures dancers as well as 25 local boys in a brand new production of William Golding’s classic novel. For full details, go to

Beyond the Blurb: Want to see where I sat and where to eat and drink before the show?