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Theatre Review: Black Cat

15 October 17 words: Mary Dansie

An early spooky treat from LaPelle's Factory

We know that Edgar Allen Poe’s tales are classics. They’re gothic, they’re dark, they’re sinister - we know the drill. But they’re all a bit same-y once you’ve read two or three. It’s the same problem with horror films – we know it ain’t gonna go well, yet we still love them! So when performances like The Black Cat by Lapelle’s Factory come to town, we know that it’s a must-see. Mainly because we’re not entirely sure what we’ll be watching.

Lapelle’s Factory have reimagined the gothic, creepy tale of The Black Cat, adapted by Mufaro Makubika, and delivered a down right hilarious play. Ollie Smith played the alcoholic madman, who brutally maims and murders two black cats, as well as his partner, played by Olwen Davies. Admittedly, it doesn’t sound like a barrel of jokes and giggles when I write it like that, but please believe me when I say that Lapelle’s Factory had the audience laughing their socks off.

The macabre play had a minimalist setting. It was based in the Ustinov room, tucked away upstairs in the Nottingham Playhouse. The set comprised of three tables. On the centre table sat an array of strange items: a fake raven, a movie-theatre-esq sign of The Black Cat, a black balloon (which represented the cats Daisy and Pluto) as well as a few other objects.

Olwen and Ollie sat on the far tables reading from their scripts. The two regularly switched between reading and acting to critiquing, commenting and having hilarious digs at the gothic and horror film tropes. Their chemistry was brilliant. It was fascinating watching them become entirely engrossed in their characters and the angst of the story, to then abruptly stop and start mocking the scenes and their lines.

It’s been another successful year for Nottingham Playhouse’s Playground festival; this year has boasted an excellent line-up. If you’ve missed out on this play, then you can still book tickets for Leicester’s showing of The Black Cat in November. If you’ve booked a spot already, then you’re in for a treat. Expect the unexpected, especially with the ending. I warn you now - you’ll be blessed with an interpretive dance of the story and you’ll love it.


The Black Cat was at Nottingham Playhouse on Thursday 5 October 2017.

LaPelle's Factory website

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