Review: 'How to Live a Jellicle Life: Life Lessons from the 2019 Hit Movie Musical Cats ' @ Alma Tavern & Theatre ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


By Mia Smith, Co-Deputy Music Editor

Following a sold-out five star run in London, Linus Karp is back in his cat costume and more jellicle than ever. Epigram's Mia Smith reviews his recent performance in Bristol.

As he takes a swig from a carton of milk and smooths down his furry headpiece, I know I’m about to witness insanity at its most genius. What follows is an hour of jellicle life lessons and James Corden slander; always funny and always jellicle.

The show almost feels as if we are stuck in isolation with Karp; it’s his turn to present his PowerPoint as we run out of ways to while away our evenings. The medium successfully crosses from the living room to the theatre, Karp proving a master of visual comedy. Comic sans is still funny, and so is that transition where the slide turns into the paper airplane. There is photoshop of the highest quality: we take a moment to construct our jellicle names from a handcrafted jellicle-name-generator, officially baptised into Karp’s absurd world.

But what does it mean to ‘be jellicle’? Karp explains through a series of gifs, camp tunes and incredible dance moves: each cat sings a jellicle song, competing to be the jellicle choice – a feline who will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. Although we can’t all be the jellicle choice (no one compares to Jennifer Hudson), Karp argues we can still live a jellicle life.

He guides us through each of the film’s felines, considering their jellicle qualities and how we can learn from their wisdom. We should be relaxed like Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson), sexy like Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo), and most importantly love the theatre like Gus (Ian McKellen).

These life lessons are sandwiched by other hilarious observations. Such as how Rebel Wilson was cast perfectly, twin cats Tantomile and Coricopat are a bit like Jedward, and how Taylor Swift’s recent albums are still touched by her character Bombalurina.

Awkward Productions / David Bird

Perhaps the most jellicle thing one can do is write a one-man show about a film that scored 19% on rotten tomatoes. Karp is a comical vision of liking something ironically until it isn’t ironic anymore; each time ‘jellicle’ is uttered it only makes more sense. How to Live a Jellicle Life is the perfect reintroduction to theatre after a not-very-jellicle lockdown. The show is funny, perfect and a genuine hoot – Linus Karp is my jellicle choice.

Featured Image: David Bird

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