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Wildcat’s Last Waltz

by on 7 July 2022

Cat Walk on the Wild Side

Wildcat’s Last Waltz

by Kelly Hunter and Joshua Welch 

Joshua Welch Company, Bitesize Festival at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith until 10th July

Review by Gill Martin

A potty-mouthed widow might look prissy in pink but her opening line of ‘I hate fucking dusting’ sums up her anarchic approach to life. 

She also hates her bingo-playing mother-in-law to the same degree as she adores her late husband Geoffrey.

Joshua Welch stars and brings Wildcat’s Last Waltz to Hammersmith’s Riverside Studio’s Bitesize Festival with director Kelly Hunter.

In his hilarious depiction of an ageing Fitness Queen who could give Joe Wicks a run for his money (although she’s more of the Green Goddess generation) Welch sports a Mrs Merton style grey permed wig, rouge pink make-up to match pink striped skirt and cardie.

She longs for another 52 years of wedded bliss with a husband who showed his devotion by scratching the dry skin off her feet with a Stanley knife.  No greater love …

Wildcat immediately involves the audience with an invitation to take tea.  Those not downing beer and wine dutifully accept.   ‘C’mon, it’s free.  Milk from a cow.  I can’t understand how you milk an almond,’ she says.

More audience participation as Sergio, in a blazingly colourful shirt, is plucked from the third row to join her on stage as she recounts her life.

She was, by her own account, a bit of a goer in her Sheffield youth, dancing and drinking her nights away as she searched for prey.   Dancing is still a passion. She tenderly lifts an urn containing Geoffrey’s ashes as she two-steps around her parlour, watched by a bemused Sergio busily dunking ginger biscuits in his cuppa.

He is replaced on stage by five more victims whom Wildcat enrols in a frenetic fitness class, advising them: ‘If you are asthmatic breathe whenever you can.’  Exercise has not always paid off for her. ‘You spend forty years doing Pilates and your fanny falls out,’ she complains after suffering a prolapse by the luncheon meat counter.

She puts her class through a formidable routine of star jumps, press-ups, roaring lion and downward dog poses, risking cardiac arrest with double-time physical jerks.

The humour masks a rather sad and poignant figure: mother to a drunken son, an adored daughter, and a grandson who calls her Granny Grot Bag.  She cuts a lonely figure as she slumps in her armchair and whips off her wig.

But is there still life in the Waltzing Wildcat?

Gill Martin, July 2022

Photography courtesy of Joshua Welch Company

The Bitesize Festival is playing at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios until Sunday 31st July.

 On offer are comedy, drag, dance, music and dark drama with titles to entice: I am the Bomb; Bad Sex; Boris Live; Boorish Trumpson; The Man who lives under the Bed; A Plague on All your Houses; Impromptu Shakespeare.

 Audiences are invited to come for an hour, an evening, a week.  Leave inspired.  One attraction is the brevity of each production, each lasting around an hour.  And each for a tenner.

 This pick’n’mix policy aims to encourage new and younger audiences to discover the delights of live theatre. And, according to Riversides Studios Development Director Chris Martin, a way to support young artists and give them space to try out their ideas.

 The Studios first tried out Bitesize last January with half a dozen shows.  It was so successful that now there are a bakers’ dozen throughout July.

 Bitesize is affordable and digestible.  Bon appetite.

 With all the political shenanigans swirling around No.10 my tip for a tasty morsel would be a Saturday morning show (30th July) of Boris Live starring Will Barton.  His career might have to make a dramatic U-turn.

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