Set in a precinct in Croydon, south London, Officer Madge Barker and Simon Blockley solve the mystery of a cat burglar. Enter an incompetent detective, an overly emotional pet owner, and a reporter who would rather cause drama than report on it and you’ve got yourself a British farce.
I lived in the UK for a year and a half and now work for a British company with British colleauges and I thoroughly enjoyed the quirky British-isms of this play. I took particular delight in hearing about Sainsbury’s, the telly, and the love of cuppas (tea). I wonder if playwright Bill Daniel has spent significant time in the culture. I would hazard to guess he has if his good writing (and solid accent) is any indication. I thought the script was very much fun. Some suggestions I might have to really push this into being of the “British tradition” style of performance would be for Daniel to consider more asides/fourth wall breaking moments and self-reflective stylistic moments that allow the audience enter the fun a bit more. This play functioned best when it really embraced the British tradition (ie: character self-deprecation, clipped and speedy line delivery, feelings expressed through language and not emoted, etc.). Almost everything I enjoyed most about this production fell under its style, particularly a moment of psychedelic cat dancing.
Performances (and accents) came at a range but I must commend Lisa Tosti in her role as Madge Barker. I don’t think she ever left the stage and delivered a consistently high energy performance. She also delivered the strongest and most accurate accent of the evening. It might have been nice to see a more deliberate shift from her “incompetent” self to her “throwing caution into the wind/who gives a f*ck” self that ultimately leads her to her victory, although that may come down to writing or direction. Lucy Lodder (played by Aiyanna Wade channelling actress Lucy Davis in pretty much any role) had the fun challenge of playing an overdramatic cat lady turned villain, but I wonder why the playwright chose to give that information away to the audience so early and so easily? I think it might have been interesting to have more suspects to consider for a longer time. Regardless, Wade clearly enjoyed playing this dichotomy and brought her audience right along with her to the party. Rita Skeeter… I mean Leslie “Twist” Topp (played by Sam Shimanek) had some delightful moments that were only accentuated by her fabulous costumes. I must get my hands on that pink shiny skirt suit! Richard Eisloeffel as Detective Inspector Rhys Butterworth lived up to his name and buttered everything up while making the most of his sausage roll (you’ll have to buy a ticket to see what I mean) and Bill Daniel had a very loving and tender turn as Simon Blockley. All of these actors were 100% committed to the weird and their enjoyment performing together and for their audience was palpable.
This 115 minute play is a fun night out if you’re looking for a good laugh, a human/kitten discotheque, and supporting wonderful causes. Once this production breaks even, E.D.G.E of Orion Theatre NFP is donating 50% of their proceeds to PAWS Chicago which is currently helping with Hurricane Harvey relief.
You only have one more weekend to see EDGE’s latest work! Click here to get your tickets meow! It's playing at the Heartland Studio Theatre this Friday and Saturday night only at 8 pm.
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