I had been looking forward to this show from Soap Soup Theatre at the wonderful Wardrobe on Old Market, which is fast becoming my favourite venue. My children (5 and almost 2) and I are big fans of Edward Lear and nonsense in general. We were not disappointed; nonsense, there was much.
We are introduced to the pompous owl and the ditsy, fun-loving cat, who struggle to live harmoniously together, despite their shared love of sugar mice. The owl wants peace and quiet to get on with writing his serious poetic masterpiece, while the cat would rather boogie and play games. This inspired much heckling, especially the chant of “SILLY CAT!”, which I couldn’t help feel was a little unfair, as the owl was clearly the unreasonable one. (He reminded me vaguely of my husband but shhh!)
I have to applaud the cast for their general handling of the rather rambunctious crowd, who threw themselves wholeheartedly into some uninvited and apparently infectious audience participation. A favourite moment was when a small boy went to look for the “missing” pussycat and announced to the crowd that she was in fact just hiding behind the cupboard.
We hop, skip and jump around the Lear canon with this quarreling duo treating us to a veritable mash up of nonsense snippets. All the ingredients for a great show are here and there’s lots to commend about it from the beautiful set and costumes to the obvious skill of the performers and the well-chosen soundtrack. I do have a small reservation about the choppy nature of the show, partly because rhythm is so important in Lear and that didn’t quite translate for me. Overall though a very enjoyable and well-executed piece of theatre that charmed us all.
The Owl and the Pussycat’s Treasury of Nonsense is on at the Wardrobe Theatre until 10th April
Review by Emma-Louise Hardman