Review: Down An Alley Filled With Cats (Throwing Shade Theatre Company)

Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Apr 25 – May 8, 2017
Playwright: Warwick Moss
Director: Tom Richards
Cast: Gabriel Egan, William Jordan
Image by Andrew Langcake

Theatre review
Simon and Timothy are a couple of dishonest types, who let greed take control of their destinies. It is true that most of us use material gain as a guiding force to navigate through daily life; many of our decisions are made with monetary benefit in mind, and little else is allowed to interfere. Down An Alley Filled With Cats by Warwick Moss takes place in a bookshop, where knowledge and intellect occupy physical space but the printed pages fail to form a positive influence on the men who read them.

The play is interested in the relationship between philosophy and the actualities of existence, but that idea is a mere suggestion that backs down from the show’s need to be a straightforward comedy about crooks trying to outsmart each other. The production is tentative and under-rehearsed, but its players, Gabriel Egan and William Jordan demonstrate a strong conviction that sustains our attention, with Jordan’s more nuanced approach providing much needed texture to an often unimaginative staging of the work. Laughs are delivered sparingly, but the narrative, and its several plot twists, are relayed with sufficient clarity.

Good and bad are simple dichotomies, presented as absolute oppositions that demand our moral propriety. When we choose right from wrong however, grey areas are discovered, or perhaps manufactured, and one person’s morality becomes another’s transgression. Evil exists, but they are always in other people. Bad people are never ourselves. The way we justify any action is always completely reasonable at the time, and in order to satisfy selfish desires, conscience is easily brushed aside. In Down An Alley Filled With Cats, even the learned do sin. When all the books in the world offer us no salvation, humanity must be at a point beyond hope and repair.