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Arts reviews: There's no meow factor.

Byline: Richard Edmonds

Cats Alexandra Theatre

This is the show with the overwhelming statistics. Productions around the world, audiences numbering millions and no doubt thousands of coaches to carry them there.

But it is essentially a show for teenyboppers and is much less overwhelming than the shriek advertising promises. If you can take panto-style dance numbers, eyeball-searing lighting, and a desecration all night of TS Eliot's beloved poems culled from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, then rush out and buy a ticket immediately -but be prepared for boredom to strike.

The interesting thing at the beginning was the announcement, rather like a restaurant where your waiter is introduced to your table, that 'your musical director tonight will be' -whoever it was.

But this was a formulaic evening and Gillian Lynne's choreography is very much of the one step, two step, kick and turn variety, with high-speed spins and jumps when a suspicion of tedium strikes.

There were lots of pelvic thrusts to indicate the amoral nature of the inhabitants of the feline world. It is something Eliot did not include in the poetry and I shuddered at the vulgarity of it.

Much was lost on a half-empty theatre (the stalls at least) on the night I attended the show.

Did this audience know to whom Gus the Theatre Cat was referring when he mentioned Irving and Tree -the great late -19th-century theatre managers?

The answer is probably not.

And many people may well have puzzled over references to East Lynne, wondering perhaps if it was a postal location rather than a 19th-century play.

But I can record that they laughed predictably at all the sight gags.

But the company, in all fairness, were consistently excellent -acrobats to a man in nice costumes and clever makeups.

Grizabella the tragedy queen -a kind of Evita in a tatty catskin -certainly did justice to Memories, the one good song in a less-than-gripping Andrew Lloyd Webber score. I'm afraid I hurried home thankfully to read the poetry.

Running time: 2hrs 40 mins. Until Saturday.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 16, 2003
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