One of the great joys of the Edinburgh Fringe is just glancing at your fellow ticket-holders when something fantastically odd is going on, onstage. No doubt Catts will attract a number of curious Lloyd-Webber fans and unassuming cat-lovers across the course of its run, who will get to the bit with Frankie Thompson, the wedding dress and the litter tray and realise that, good heavens, they are definitely not in Kansas anymore.
The official blurb for Catts calls it a ‘lip-synced ballet’, which sums things up pretty well: imagine if an old ‘80s Kate Bush video went awry and the prancing Bush started miming to reality shows, workout tapes and freaky old interviews instead, all jerkily cut together, VHS-style, on the big screen.
What gradually emerges is that this is a peek into the mind of someone actively becoming the stereotypical crazy cat lady, a life among felines suddenly seeming much simpler than trying to make sense of the noisy, stressful and stupid world we negotiate every day.
But take it as you will: there are silly puns and performance-arty bits, Cassetteboy-style video mash-ups and emotional human moments, all of it underpinned by a hugely impressive performance from Thompson. Having to learn a whole speech – snide pauses and all – by a particularly objectionable future member of Her Majesty’s Government: that’s dedication.