DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Dead Cats – University of Sheffield Drama Studio

Reviewer: Jacob Bush

Writer and Director: Andrew Westerside

Dead Cats is the third installment in Proto-type Theater’s Truth to Power project. This play, set in an initially ambiguous setting, takes the audience into the room where lies and political spin start. It focuses on two unnamed characters as they prepare to be interviewed about their involvement in recent political and democratic damage.

Andrew Westerside’s script is very clever. It innovatively blurs the line between what is fictional and what is reality, before landing the play with a complex but hard-hitting finale. He is very careful to not lay the blame on specific individuals, whilst still grounding the play in familiar events. Westerside’s direction is also good, but at times it would have been good to allow the performers to settle further into extended scenes. The spinning in the staging is also a creative idea but it doesn’t quite have the impact one would hope, especially in a play about political spin.

Adam York Gregory’s design is simple but effective, depicting a variety of different locations. His film as the backdrop is innovative at times but when it becomes very repetitive it can also distract from the action and conversation happening on stage.

Rachel Baynton and Gillian Lees perform the two-hander. They work excellently together and have a fantastic rapport. They both have moments to showcase their strong comic timing, whilst also getting some moments to lean into more emotional responses to the events the play depicts. They do a brilliant job at not allowing either character, despite being unnamed, to become too much of a stereotype. The audience doesn’t immediately know who to root for and why and even at the end, the morality of the situation at hand is less than clear.

This is an innovative insight into the broken political system we find ourselves in, delivered expertly by two very strong performers. The audience does have to work to keep up with exactly what is going on but as the pieces fall into the place, the play becomes more and more entertaining, engaging and challenging.

Reviewed on 14th November 2022.

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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