Park Avenue Cat
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In 75 minutes there are many things a person could do – learn Russian, go swimming, bake a cake. Yet, were I to compile a list of everything I could do in that time, sitting through Park Avenue Cat again would be very, very far down the list. This humdinger of a play is currently resident at the Arts, a theatre which could rival the Shaftesbury for its recent run of flops.
Make no bones about it; the production’s problems are laid entirely at playwright Frank Strausser’s door. This is one of those plays about The Beautiful People – glamorous women dripping in couture with handsome playboys fighting over them. In LA, ‘Park Avenue Cat’ Lilly is in an on-off relationship with PR guru Philip while knocking off millionaire playboy Dorian on the side. By means of several contrivances they wend their way to therapist Nancy to remedy the problems of their impossibly decadent lives.
However, the whole thing is about as glamorous as a Leicester Square pizza. The script, frankly, stinks – vapid, clichéd dialogue in a plot as weak as Prince Edward’s handshake. The actors fight valiantly against the little they are given, with Josefina Gabrielle making the best of a very bad lot as the Cat. Tessa Peake-Jones sports frumpy costumes and a wavering accent as the therapist spouting the kind of psychobabble buzzwords usually heard on The Apprentice while Coronation Street DILF Gray O’Brien has little to do than bluster around. Daniel Weyman tries to make something of Dorian’s sexual devotion to Lilly but this play is like trying to catch water in your hands.
An air of desperation hangs over Glen Walford’s production. Mark Walters’ set brings the only splash of glamour into the proceedings and the cast are worthy of an infinitely greater script.
This is one cat that needs to find a wheelie bin. And fast.
TICKETS: PARK AVENUE CAT is at the Arts Theatre, Leicester Square, London until 20 August.
Review by Dan Usztan