I’m not a big Andrew Lloyd Webber fan and didn’t rate ‘Cats’ when I saw it in the West End. I remember thinking it was okay, that’s all. But when I saw the trailer for the new film version I was amazed. Amazed by its exquisite beauty and amazed by the critical storm that followed. Reviews were overwhelmingly bad and just got worse when the alley cats finally hit the streets of post-war Soho. It must be the most slagged-off release in living memory. It made us determined to judge it for ourselves. Was is that terrible?
Not even close. With a top drawer cast – including Judi Dench doing her regal number and a clowder of superb dancers from the Royal Ballet – ‘Cats’ is a sight for sore eyes on a lousy winter’s day – energetic, inventive, atmospheric and visually stunning. I’m not sure what the catty critics saw but it wasn’t the same film I watched.
Norwich life is enriched by regular soirees of beer and banter with a well-preserved couple who have been together since God was a toddler. They will remain nameless to spare their blushes. We’re the same generation and witter on endlessly about the good-old, bad-old days, the state of the nation and who will change our nappies during the bewildered years. It’s a fun and fruity gig.
Last time we met, we all fell into conversation with the pot man collecting a forest of empty glasses from our table. It turned out he was a student at the University of East Anglia working his way through a PhD in Medieval History. He was also gay, clever and quick witted. The young buck took one look at the four old codgers and quipped,
God, it’s like staring at my future. An episode of Vicious.*
Well that put us in our place. You’ve got to love the young.
*Vicious is a recent high camp, hit-and-miss TV sitcom featuring a couple of elderly theatrical types starring a couple of old thespians, Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen.