Reviews | Written by Anne-Louise Fortune 17/08/2022

How to Live a Jellicle Life: Life Lessons from the 2019 Hit Movie Musical CATS – Edinburgh Fringe

It’s fair to say that CATS didn’t get the most positive reviews when it burst onto cinema screens in 2019. Here at Starburst we were fairly neutral about it, awarding 6 out of 10, and recognising that there was only ever going to be so much any movie could do with the source material of a somewhat random collection of poems, and the late 70’s/early 80’s treatment already afforded them by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Other critics were less kind, and the movie has a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – that’s bad. Very, very bad.

Other people however, loved it, and Linus Karp, the performer in this one-person show, is one of those fans. Linus bounces onto the stage, dressed as a cat – in a costume that’s more reminiscent of Lloyd Webber’s west end musical than of the 2019 film the show is a response to. What then follows is an absurdly funny PowerPoint presentation, during which there is light audience participation, a lot of facts, a lot of video clips, and more use of Comic Sans font than in the rest of the Edinburgh Fringe combined.

Karp takes us through every cat in the movie, highlighting their good points, their bad points, and whether or not they are ‘jellicle’. If you don’t know what that word means, don’t worry, it probably isn’t really that important, and you won’t be any the wiser by the end of this show. As we move through Karp’s extended TED Talk, there’s a staggering usage of memes, snippets from the movie soundtrack, and slightly cringe-worthy punning, all of which went down brilliantly well with the audience when we saw the show.

Like cats, Karp is easily distracted, and we go off on more than one tangent as we continue through the cast run down. There’s a particularly amusing moment of audience participation around the phrase ‘The Napoleon of…’, and another involving Taylor Swift.

This is funny, but perhaps somewhat overlong. Whilst Karp’s enthusiasm is infectious, and obviously genuine, the problem lies with his much-panned source material. The movie was so badly done that there reaches a point where it is beyond satire and mockery, and Karp runs out of original commentary before he runs out of cats to catalogue. If you’re a CATS fan, or just love long-form PowerPoints, then this is the show for you, and is suitable for all but the youngest of kittens.

Book here.