Venue: The Old 505 Theatre (Newtown NSW), Mar 1 – 12, 2016
Playwright: Samantha Young
Composer & Musical Director: Matthew Predny
Director: Samantha Young
Cast: Jonny Hawkins, Graeme McRae, Gautier Pavlovic-Hobba, Eliza Reilly, Samantha Young
Images by Andre Vasquez
It takes a considerable amount of egomania for people to reach the highest positions of government, and in Space Cats, the same is true for alien cats in outer space. Queen Cat is a fascist leader with enormous arrogance, and the ignorance to match, on a rampage to destroy all that she deems to be inferior or objectionable. Her planet is now close to complete eradication, and we wonder if her thirst for annihilation will ever find satiety. This is of course, not at all a serious musical, even if the felines do pontificate on immigration, homelessness and sexual discrimination. In fact, the show does its best to create a ridiculous havoc for an audience that it wishes to amuse in the most outrageous ways possible. The darkness at its heart only makes the experience edgier, and is the element that remains after waves of manic laughter have subsided.
Samantha Young does not play the Queen, but is the indisputable triple-threat boss of the production, responsible not only for its writing and direction, but also for playing the key role of Bin Cat. Young’s script is wildly imaginative and relentlessly humorous, and while it may lack complexity, Space Cats contains sufficient poignancy to prevent its persistent hilarity from becoming banal. Direction of the work will be remembered for its incredible exuberant spirit, with Young’s boundless sense of playfulness littered through every moment. The degree at which her show is determined to entertain is almost merciless. Young also happens to be the strongest singer in the production, and along with Eliza Reilly, the funniest performers in the cast. Reilly plays the aforementioned Queen Cat with splendid flair and a fierce wit, leaving an excellent impression with her enthusiasm for extremely bawdy comedy.
Equally accomplished is Matthew Predny’s work as composer and musical director, simultaneously mocking and embracing the Broadway musical genre for a refreshingly joyful take on something that is often too conceited and cheesy. Set and lighting designer Benjamin Brockman transports us to a parallel universe where every molecule of air seems to be impregnated with glitter, and an involuntary shimmer emanates from each object and being. The team appears to be in competition for turning up the camp, and there is no clear winner with every aspect of production pushing at the limits of all things gay, gaudy and gasp-inducing. Pearls are certainly recommended for spontaneous clutching at Space Cats, no matter what gender, creed or species.