By Cameron Henderson
If you’re looking for a zany twist on your festive theatre fix, look no further than the all-singing, all-dancing bloodbath that is The Wardrobe Theatre’s Reservoir Mogs.
Now in their seventh year of Christmas productions, The Wardrobe Theatre specialise in unholy mash-ups such as Goldilock, Stock and Three Smoking Bears and Muppets Die Hard- this year’s offering is no different.
Marrying together the unlikely bed-fellows of Tarantino’s gory masterpiece, Reservoir Dogs, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s family classic, Cats - the Musical, The Wardrobe Theatre have produced a show that somehow manages to remain loyal to the most well-loved scenes of the originals while simultaneously creating something refreshingly innovative.
Indeed, the script pays irreverent lip-service to Tarantino’s typically brash and meandering dialogue from the very opening scene. The audience are thrown in at the deep end, mid-way through a conversation with the gang as they discuss garlic vaginas and strap-ons while musing over a breakfast menu. The show starts as it means to go on, interweaving shamelessly obscene humour with witty remixes of the songs from Webber’s beloved musical.
'The Wardrobe Theatre have produced a show that somehow manages to remain loyal to the most well-loved scenes of the originals while simultaneously creating something refreshingly innovative'
Told in the same retrospective style as Reservoir Dogs, the show narrates the story of four gangster cats in the lead-up to a heist through a series of flashbacks. The object of the heist: the mysterious ‘Jellicle Ball’ (a reference to the annual ball in Webber’s musical for those out the loop). However, when the cats catch wind of betrayal, tensions rise and paws are pointed - it’s only so long before the bullets start to fly. Rife with feline puns, ranging from purely smutty to more nuanced and topical humour, the production harnesses its concept to full effect, drawing hilarious comparison between Italian-American gangsters and feline culture.
Music is used brilliantly throughout the performance, with co-directors Adam Fuller and Matthew Whittle drawing on classics such as ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ for the recreation of the infamous Reservoir Dogs torture scene. Here and throughout the performance, interaction with the audience is used to great effect (unfortunately I was the victim of this particular scene..) This interaction is added to by breaking down the fourth wall, once again reminiscent of Cats, to bring the shifts in time-frame to the audience’s attention; the satirical style in which these interludes are performed only adds to the humour of this marvellous piece of theatre. On a largely empty set, the few props available are used to great comedic effect, most notably a ribbon, while the actresses' outfits strike a brilliant balance between the monochrome suits of Reservoir Dogs and the straggly hairstyles of Cats.
'the audience are thrown in at the deep end, mid-way through a conversation with the gang as they discuss garlic vaginas and strap-ons'
The entire cast is utterly convincing in their portrayals throughout. However, special mention must go to Lizzy Skrzypiec as crime queen ‘White’, and to Emma Keaveney-Roys for her hilarious portrayal of playful psychopath ‘Blonde’. If there is one criticism to be made, it is that the audience took a while to warm up due to the relentless pace of the opening scenes, but boy were they awake by the second half. The theatre was soon ringing with the sound of deep belly laughs as the plot descended into a glorious bloodthirsty farce, bringing together all the elements toyed with earlier on.
It is both refreshing and a joy to see the talent of an all-female cast showcased so splendidly, while the overtly sexualised script somehow adds to an overall sense of empowerment in this production. Memorable lines in the play’s innuendo-riddled dialogue include Pink’s, ‘I’m gonna die all over you!’, and the best cat pun of the day by Blonde: ‘It’s the end of fe-line!’
Reservoir Mogs is on at The Wardrobe Theatre until the 21st Jan- get your tickets here.
How do you feel about this hilarious, festive, all-female performance? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.