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My Name Is Cathy

by on 18 August 2019

Absurdist Farce of Time Again

My Name Is Cathy

by Andrew Sharpe

KatAlyst Productions at Chapel Playhouse, Kings Cross until 18th August, then on tour until 11th October

Review by Quentin Weiver

“If I had my time all over again …” is an utterance frequently breaks forth from the exasperated lips of those of us of a certain age. The pen of emerging writer Andrew Sharpe has reshaped the sentiment of these words into the thesis for his new play, My Name is Cathy, which he has presented in this year’s Camden Fringe.

The writer is aptly named as there is a keen edge to the word-craft and structure of the play. Sharpe describes it as “an absurdist farce for our time” and with nicely crafted black humour, Sharpe just steers it away from political polemic. His inspiration come from his background as a lawyer in the family and criminal courts.

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It the evening of the eponymous Cathy’s fiftieth birthday and she sits with her only friend, a rapidly emptying bottle. Her opening monologue starts with the, sadly much parodied, introduction at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, “My name is Cathy, and I am an alcoholic.” But somebody is there to hear her confession, her own self of a decade and a half earlier, the happy, successful and socially well-adjusted 35 year old Cathy, a clever and successful schoolteacher. The didactic that follows is a riches-to-rags story painful to hear, an aleatoric decline, almost Fassbinder-like in its inevitability, attributable to nobody, or everybody, a series of wrong-turns, bad choices, and farcical mistakes.

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In the hands of director, Velenzia Spearpoint, the dispiriting theme is lightened by pulling out the moments of, albeit fairly dark, humour and of farce. She keeps the chronology focussed by the use of titbits of contemporary newscasts and of the songs then in vogue. Designer Adam Bottomley’s simple set transforms effortlessly from the chaotic orderliness of a classroom to the ordered chaos of a court of law.

 

In the courtroom scene, zealous young QC, Joanne Young argues her case unsuccessfully in a largely unsympathetic hearing before Judge James Goode. Playing both Young and the younger Cathy, Sally Paffett differentiates the roles well, showing an up-and-coming QC anxious to succeed, seen against the younger Cathy resting on the laurels of success as clever and popular teacher. But when, for Cathy, did confidence merge into arrogance?

Also doubling roles, Edwin Flay portrays a self-opinioned Judge Goode, very much of the old-school, and an entirely different character Dorian Craig, known to all as Dee, a self-absorbed man, seemingly unconcerned about that effect his has on the morale and self-esteem of the declining Cathy.

As the older Cathy, Kat-Anne Rogers’s portrait is as absorbing and as it is realistic, making for griping theatre. One could often almost feel the audience willing a different decision from her as her life gradually disintegrates.

Ambitions thwarted, spirit decimated, relationships dissolved. Would thing have been different if she could have had had time all over again? The question remains rhetorical.

Quentin Weiver
August 2019

Photography by Origin8 Photography

From → Drama, Fringe, Reviews

One Comment
  1. celiabard permalink

    Sounds a play well worth seeing on several accounts, the quality of the writing, acting and production.

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