Cat and Mouse is a satirical comedy by Shirley Diver and Raymond F. Savage, which attacks the government, corporate greed, and the unfairness in today's society. Despite the comic angle, with such a subject matter this is a difficult play to enjoy.
That uncomfortable feeling is mainly due to the characters of Tedstar and Wolfington, played by Phil Dennison and co-writer Savage, who are possibly two of the most ridiculous and revolting people you could ever have the misfortune to meet. For sheer sliminess, only the lanky and weathered Tedstar, dressed in a velvet smoking jacket with his hair tucked under a fez, matches the large, greasy Wolfington, who periodically rubs himself in the crotch. Dennison and Savage are brilliantly unhinged as these representatives of big business, the rich and politicians.
Chelsey (Kelly Diver) and Aaron (James Copestake) are the mice of the title. A young couple, they are supposed to be living in a world of opportunity, but instead find themselves being tricked out of their money and encouraged into debt at every corner. Against the extremes of Wolfington and Tedstar, you might expect Chelsey and Aaron to be more realistic. Instead they are painted as incredibly thick, and while both Diver and Copestake are very entertaining in their portrayals, they don't provoke a lot of sympathy. In this story the cats control the mice far too easily and the downfall is inevitable form the very beginning.
Diver and Savage have written a piece of absurd theatre, where every character is horrific and the main protagonists are doomed to tragedy. If the political message of the play is intended to leave one feeling slightly depressed and empty, it certainly succeeds.
Cat and Mouse is on at the Kings Arms in Salford until 18 January.
- Joanna Ing