Owl and Cat Theatre –  Dec  12 – 23, 2016
My great aunt Gertrude loves a bit of theatre, so I took her along to see this production. With difficulty, we found the entrance to the Owl and Cat up a dilapidated alleyway opposite Richmond station. An old house converted into bar and theatre. Upon entering, all audience members  are issued with plastic black eye masks. “Ooh”, says Gertie, this is very Venice” and insists I take a photo of her by the dinky little theatre bar.
{CAPTION}For Act one, the Masked Ones are led into a room resembling a dungeon and invited to interact with a group of young actors all in white with strait-jacket tops,  except for two who are in black. Some are frozen in poses and others on the move with beatific smiles on their faces. The loud music is reminiscent of an interweave between brass band and sacred music.With a few distortions thrown in.
 I try to talk to a frozen picture of misery, but she isn’t going to unfreeze for me. When questioned, one of the Movers, replies that they are all just one happy family. Gertie whispers to me, “They’re all zombies. This reminds me of waiting for the crime to happen in Midsummer Murders.” There’s red glow in one corner of the stage. To me, we are obviously watching a whole lot deluded lunatics awaiting their fate in Purgatory.
 Next,  the audience is encouraged to be seated on long red benches in the middle of the stage space, encircled by actors doing weird , inexplicable things.A  young actor in black , with a malevolent roll of the eye, insists 83 year- old Gertie gives up her seat to him. This must be Beelzebub – or certainly a very rude member of the younger generation. Gertie was not impressed. But his belligerent glare was not to be trifled with. Suddenly, the audience is released outside into the alleyway and daylight. The two black outfitted run away , hotly pursued by the white robed, but manage to escape out of the gate. 
“Ah,” sighs Aunt Gertrude, ” You’ll have to explain it to me when we get home.” In the alley way , the play continues with the the white robed ones freed from purgatory, and discussing their former experiences with sexual predation and embezzlement. The masked audience, loiters, wondering and watching on. Luckily , Gertie & I snaffle a small bench to sit on. Then we’re ushered back to the original theatre space which now has become theatre in the round. Back in their civvies, the cast are seated in a clump on the floor , confessing their”kinky” sexual adventures.{CAPTION}
The 20 -somethings’ avant garderie. The audience ceases to exist. It’s just like when you’re sitting on a tram, overhearing someone’s conversation on a mobile phone. “Now I understand the masks, ” says Gertie” It’s to mask the audience’s boredom! “She was a bit of a goer in her day and there’s not much she hadn’t heard as a publican’s wife. Finally, we escape into the wild streets of Richmond and collapse thankfully into the nearest pub . I explain the play to Gertie.  
Fortunately, I’d read up on it before the show and had a word with the Dad of the Creator & Director, Gabrielle Savrone. A few years earlier, she’d been in the grip of some cult and worried her parents sick with imaginings of what might be going on.This play was her brave “reveal” to Mum and Dad about life in the cult and existence post-cult. “One can only sympathise with the parents!” pronounces Gertie.  She’s quite grumpy . “That title was quite misleading. There were no red boots anywhere and that cigarette they passed to each other in the last act was well and truly smoked to the end.” 

Review and photos by Magda de la Pesca


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