Catherine and Anita
King’s Head Theatre
Reviewed – 9th February 2018
“Roy presents the audience with a fragile and vulnerable woman struggling in the world”
Catherine and Anita have an unusual relationship, namely because no one else can see Anita. But that doesn’t stop Anita from being there at the most critical moments in Catherine’s life. We first meet Catherine as an adult in a state of mania, learning through flashbacks what traumas have shaped her, leading to the play’s inevitable conclusion.
Sarah Roy as Catherine gives an intense performance, pulsing with palpable energy. Slight but meaningful alterations to her hair and posture transform her into Catherine the precocious 7-year-old, distressed 12-year-old and naive 26-year-old, all of whom are chillingly candid with their thoughts and emotions. Alone on stage for 60 minutes, Roy’s Catherine is initially larger than life, but as the piece progresses and the pretence falls away, Roy presents the audience with a fragile and vulnerable woman struggling in the world.
The piece handles the principle issues of abuse and mental health with care, puncturing some of the more deeply expository scenes with dark humour. What Derek Ahonen’s script and Roy’s performance pinpoint is how lonely living with a secret, or mental illness can be. Roy lucidly presents the dilemma between feeling completely alone in the world or appearing crazy to everyone else in it. Through a sub-plot involving Catherine’s husband, the cycle of victimisation is brought into relief. Again, Roy explicitly describes how often the victim becomes the victimiser; knowing it as the only way to assert their own power.
Sound designer Dave Walker helps delineate each scene with ambient sound, such as children playing in a playground or cutlery clinking in a restaurant. The distorted music and candy coloured light sequences between scenes (designed by Holly Ellis), added a dreamlike quality to the piece.
In the final moments, Catherine bids Anita a fond farewell. However, we are left wondering whether Catherine has resigned herself to a life of loneliness, or something more sinister …
Reviewed by Amber Woodward
Photography by Dave Walker
Catherine and Anita
King’s Head Theatre until 24th February