An Australian play that hasn’t been seen in over a decade, Down an Alley Filled With Cats is getting its 2017 revival at the hands of Throwing Shade Company at the King Street Theatre in Newtown.
While unfortunately starring a dearth of real life cats, the play, written in 1984 by Warwick Moss, presents us with a battle of wits between small-time, amateurish con artist Simon Matthews (Egan) and Polish refugee turned second-hand bookshop owner Timothy Timmony (Jordan). Matthews is hunting down a Sung Dynasty treasure, reportedly worth half a million dollars, and the location is hidden in one of the books in Timmony’s store.
A blend in style somewhere between Agatha Christie whodunit thriller mystery and a uniquely Australian comedy, Down an Alley Filled With Cats is an interesting genre – one I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.
The production feels under-rehearsed, and at times tends towards being slow. While the set design is nice, reminiscent of any number of run-down second hand bookstores dotted around Glebe, Newtown and the Inner West, the blocking is overly simple and not particularly inventive. However, Director Richards and the two actors have clearly worked together to develop a dramatic tension that works well in the space.
The conflict between the two characters, both of whom represent different ideologies; stages of life and backgrounds, and both seeking an abstract goal that throughout the play is manifested in the treasure, are great foils for one another. Jordan’s character is endlessly intriguing as the audience waits at every moment for another revelation – you never quite shake the feeling that somehow he’s orchestrating everything. Egan on the other hand, is the personification of Australia of the early 80s: brash, colloquial, aspiration and blunt.
Despite its flaws, Down an Alley Filled With Cats is still a strong Australian thriller, and considering that’s a genre you don’t get much of from Aussie theatre, I’d highly recommend getting out to see it.
I’ll even forgive the lack of actual cats.
Down an Alley Filled With Cats runs at the King Street Theatre until the 13th of May. More information and tickets can be found at http://www.kingstreettheatre.com.au/down-an-alley-filled-with-cats-by-warwick-moss/
Cast: Gabriel Egan, William Jordan.
Creative Team: Warwick Moss (Writer), Tom Richards (Director), Judith Caingat (Digital Artist), Sean Punch (Set Construction), Eion Ryan (Set Construction), Bokkie Robertson (Stage Manager), and Andrew Langcake (Producer).