REVIEW: CATHY (Soho Theatre) ★★★★★
Cathy, the critically acclaimed production from award-winning theatre company Cardboard Citizens, comes to Soho Theatre in London as part of a UK tour.
The play is inspired by Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach’s ground-breaking film that helped change attitudes to homeless families. Cathy takes a look at housing and homelessness today and makes us ask how much has changed. In the same way as Loach’s film, Cathy is a fictional story based heavily on real life experiences. Cathy first premiered in October 2016 before visiting theatres, prisons and hostels around the UK. Most recently, the production had an acclaimed five star run at Edinburgh Festival 2017 where it was seen by over 2000 people.
Cathy is written by Ali Taylor and directed by Cardboard Citizens’ Artistic Director Adrian Jackson. The play shines a light on the current issues of increasing housing costs and the reality of forced relocation in a very human way. The production was performed in the House of Lords to coincide with the second reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill in 2017.
The play follows Cathy (Cathy Owen) and her teenage daughter Danielle (Hayley Wareham) as they lose the flat they have lived in for many years. What happens next sends ripples through their family, friends and their relationship with each other. Through conversations with their landlord, Housing Officers, siblings, ex-partners and new neighbours (all played by Amy Loughton and Alex Jones), the reality of the social housing system is laid bare and the challenge of being offered housing far away from family, friends and school is painfully clear.
The set uses the pieces of a giant Jenga set to create the various locations, offices, flats and homes which serves to enhance the temporary nature and fragility of Cathy’s situation. Film projection is used to show clips of individuals talking about their own experiences to emphasise the truth in Cathy and Danielle’s situation. The production was researched with the support of housing and homelessness charity Shelter. The tour includes visits to Cornwall, Windsor, Glasgow, Cardiff, Swansea, Milford Haven, Aberystwyth and London’s Albany.
Cathy is an emotional play that is sometimes difficult to watch, but this is a challenging story that needs to be told. It certainly deserves the multiple five star reviews it has received.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Pamela Raith Photography