Based on Ken Loach's 1966 film Cathy Come Home and written by Ali Taylor, Cardboard Citizen's 'Cathy' follows a struggling mother whose life spirals into social descent due to England's harsh and impossible welfare system. Working three part time jobs, putting her daughter through school and caring for her sick father, Cathy scrambles relentlessly to cope in a society that isn't built to support her. Director, Adrian Jackson, and captivating powerhouse Cathy Owen (Cathy) are a dream team. Together they provide a heart-wrenching insight into the the housing difficulties faced by the working class residents of London.
Designed by Lucy Sierra, the set consists of a simple giant Jenga tower and much like a London high-rise, it is built up, knocked down, mistreated and deconstructed to form the various intimate spaces throughout the story. The four-strong cast are an excellent ensemble, and work together masterfully to drive the piece forward with a choppy pace. The transitions consist of interview footage with people who have faced or are currently facing homelessness and their experiences at attempting to get re-homed (which by the way appears to be horrendously impossible), and is an effective way to bring this fifty year old story into our contemporary setting.
Hayley Wareham looks and feels too mature to play Cathy's fifteen year old daughter Danielle, although she does it with great sensitivity. Amy Loughton and Alex Jones brilliantly multi-role every other character within the play. Each of them set the scenes expertly yet efficiently through their detailed characterisations of the quirky residents of London that Cathy comes face to face with. Cathy Owen quite literally tears the working class heart from my chest at several points throughout the play with her visceral and grounded portrayal of Cathy. Cardboard Citizens clearly work damn hard to create life-changing theatre in order to make a positive impact on society, and their passion bleeds through this piece fiercely.
Written by @_FayeButler