EFR - Reviews of Kitty Litter

Kitty Litter

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2011

reviews

Bethany Knibb

at 01:24 on 20th Aug 2011

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Don’s is a compelling story of his turbulent relationships – with ex-girlfriend Vicky, and with drugs. The inevitable unraveling of his brain is presented in this purposefully muddled though extremely captivating new play, “Kitty Litter”, by Jac Husebo.

In a living room in Bristol (yes, expect accents), Don and his housemate, Ken, are trying to decide how best to cover up Don’s drug-fuelled attack of Chris, a mate of theirs. With the heavily injured friend upstairs, the boys spend much of the play nervous, paranoid and neurotic, which Thomas Butler and Roger Parkins play extremely well. The cat is extraneous, but simply a nice touch that lends some relevance to the play’s title.

In my view this production by When I Say Jump theatre is an intimate character study that sees Husebo delve deep into the effects that prolonged drug use has on a person’s perceptions and behaviour. Throughout "Kitty Litter", Don’s anxiety develops and he increasingly loses touch with reality. He repeatedly refers to his life being like films (and talks of Harrison Ford like a close friend), describing them as being “colourful”, as opposed to “bleached” like the colour in his head. Following this comment and the use of a background music that Don alone hears, I couldn’t help but liken Don’s character to Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire. This is no bad thing, and the comparison almost makes Don’s character more endearing.

Don at one point remarks that the “world needs to catch up”, and this is beautifully reflected when the script is broken down by something I can only attempt to describe as a suspended sort of scene enjambment, and the audience is left feeling somewhat behind themselves. Despite the actors’ confidence during these scenes, it is difficult to follow individual conversations. However, I thought this was a very clever device and was impressed by the cast’s professionalism and fluidity.

Roger Parkins’ portrayal of Ken Gubb is particularly enjoyable -

he provides most of the comic touches to this production and makes it much more accessible and grounded by adding comments typical of banal day-to-day life. Butler plays Don almost as a prisoner of his own fantasy, just trying to “feel something” again. The cast have excellent cohesion: this results in a fantastic production.

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Ashleigh Wheeler

at 10:52 on 20th Aug 2011

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This is a surprising gem of a play tucked away in the forgotten hours before midday that deserves a larger audience. Plays which are, like this one, concerned broadly with ‘young people’ and hence also SEX DRUGS VIOLENCE often fall all too easily into self-congratulation or falseness. Happily, this production is blessed with great writing and acting. What so often turns into a play designed to merely shock, here reveals itself as tender and knowing.

At the centre of this play is a group of friends that are having varying degrees of trouble dealing with the transitional period between the riotous teens and the uncertain twenties. Don, the lead, is particularly prone to fantasy, unable to fully leave behind teenage memories that ache with the sense of unfulfillment, nor childish dreams. The play charts his movement into meltdown, past, present and fantasy regularly colliding onstage. The transitions between these elements was almost flawless, lighting and costume used to create a picture of the fun of the mind and the memory. My one stylistic bugbear was the moments when the cast shared lines during multiple conversations- it was better when the clear boundary between reality and nonreality broke down gradually through the play.

It is easy to see why IdeasTap chose to sponsor this play on account of its writing. It’s emotive, and funny, and without false note. The lines ‘I miss you./ I’m right here’ may not read well on the page, but onstage they captured the feeling of having someone in front of you who you used to love back when 21 seemed old. More than the SEX DRUGS VIOLENCE, it’s a musing on what happens after we promise in teenage short-sightedness to never move on from a place and its people.

Acting is excellent across the board, with Thomas Butler playing lead role Don with an open-mouthed, lust and drug-fuelled endearing energy that stopped the part from becoming annoying.

This is a play you’ll be pretty smug with yourself for seeing before the hoards have got out of bed, and its young cast and creatives do a brilliant job to create a play with very few flaws, and a lot of truth.

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