Bristol Theatre Reviews

How to Live a Jellicle Life Alma Tavern Theatre Bristol Review

One person dressed as a Jellicle Cat, hosting a PowerPoint presentation on the life lessons we can learn from the 2019 movie musical Cats, might not sound much fun. But, when your feline guide for the evening is Linus Karp, you’re in for an evening of solid laughs. I’m already pegging this show now as my favourite piece of theatre for 2022.

I finally got around to watching the actual Cats movie the afternoon ahead the show. Having heard just how terrible the film was supposed to be, my expectations were set so low that I found it much better than anticipated. There were even times I thought, hang on, this bit is really good. That was once James Corden had been abducted by Macavity. And, if you squinted a bit to pretend the dancers were actually humans dressed like cats, rather than the strange alien hybrid they were.

I couldn’t tell if Linus Karp’s enthusiasm for the film was entirely ironic or that yes, he did appreciate the film in this much depth. However, by the time we reached the point of the film where he tackles the character of Mr Mistoffelees, I felt that this was a genuine fanship. Although I also agree that Laurie Davidson’s performance in the movie was notable…

Cats’ fanships this deep appears to be real. In the Googling of the spelling of Mr Mistoffelees, the search engine threw up a curveball – or perhaps more aptly a furball. It provided evidence that fans actually pair off the cat characters in the show. Who knew? The universe seems to have more Jellicleness to celebrate than one could ever imagine.

Karp points out incredibly important details throughout. Why is Macavity called the ‘hidden paw’ when literally no one calls him that throughout the film? What and where exactly is the Heaviside Layer? Whilst assuming it was some kind of Cat heaven, I was surprised to learn that there is in fact a real Heaviside layer comprised of ionised gas some 90km to 150km above the ground.

Is this where Jennifer Hudson goes in her chandelier balloon? Or is it more metaphorical than that? At least Hudson can continue singing by bouncing her voice around the radio waves up there. So many important questions I’m still pondering three days’ later.

Will Gus the Theatre Cat make it to the Heaviside Layer? Karp posits that Gus is unlikely to make it to the next Jellicle Ball because he is very elderly. So we hold a pre-emptive moment of silence in advance of the fact that he will not. This is accompanied by suitable hilarious visuals and sound.

Throughout, we are presented with further ‘evidence’ that the movie was a hit, including ‘quotes’ from critics and a section presented through the medium of gay disco vibes.

Perhaps, most importantly, I learned that we are all Jellicle, which somehow feels like a valid life lesson by the end of the show.

How to Live a Jellicle Life, is currently out on a UK tour. It’s a funny show with a lot of Jellicle love and delivered with Linus Karp’s sharp wit and endearing earnest/ironic love for a film that’s probably not as bad as critics would have us believe.

For more information, visit:

Further Tour Dates
Oxford -Old Fire Station 14 January
Brighton -Electric Arcade 16 January
London -Phoenix Arts Club 19 January
Corsham -Pound Arts Centre 21 January
Bath -Rondo 22 January
Poole -Lighthouse 27 January
Penzance -The Acorn 28 January
Exeter -Cygnet Theatre 29 January
Norwich -Maddermarket 2 February
Nottingham -NonSuch Studios 3 February
Sheffield -Theatre Deli 4 February
Coventry -The Albany 5 February
Colchester -Headgate Theatre 9 February
Whitley Bay-Laurels Theatre 11-12 February
Leicester -The Globe, Leicester Comedy Festival 16-17 February
Huddersfield -Lawrence Batley Theatre 18 February
York -Theatre @41 19 February
Glasgow -Acting Coach Scotland 22-23 February
Manchester -The Edge 25-26 February
Belfast -Accidental Theatre 4-5 March
London -TwoBrewers 11 March

Cast and Creatives
Writer and performerLinus Karp
Producer Joseph Martin
Choreographer Sam Carlyle
Costume DesignerAlison Carlyle
Photo: Dave Bird