Antennae & A Jellicle Life

Antennae [C Digital] (@ksiepser)

In this split-screen Zoom monologue, Kelsey is visited by a gender nonconforming mantis named E who causes her to question her assumptions about gender, femininity and sexuality.

From childhood, Kelsey’s experiences with men has been framed by their perception of her beauty and desirability; whether it’s the man offering her $100 for being beautiful, her embarrassed dad buying period products, or the problematic circumstances around losing her virginity. When E, played by Kelsey’s feet, arrives in her room, she reluctantly considers whether the power dynamic in these situations was a factor. Occasionally E will interrupt the show with laconic observations that finally lead to Kelsey’s epiphany: what if, in working so hard to conform to society’s idea of a woman, another option exists?

Binaries run through the show; Kelsey feels let down by society’s concept of gender, with aspirations to Top Gun masculinity filling in for her lack of strong female role models. In a lockdown haze, she imagines Tony Soprano’s therapy sessions, and her own conducted by a sock puppet. Writing the content in itself is cathartic, so in a sense both performer and audience are changed by the show.

A surreal take on how binaries can hurt more than they help.

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How To Live A Jellicle Life: Life Lessons From The 2019 Hit Movie Musical CATS (Greenside @ Riddles Court, 17:15) 17-20, 22-27(+online)

[Content warning: on-screen nudity] If you’re a fan of the 2019 film adaptation of Cats- and even if you’re not-Linus Karp’s whistlestop tour through this cultural phenomenon aims to appeal to everyone, and if a packed Thistle Theatre is anything to go by, he’s succeeded.

The audience is evenly split between fans and those yet to be converted, but Linus has come armed with a full cat outfit and his PowerPoint presentation, lovingly created on a shoestring in Microsoft Paint. Through this delightful medium we’re introduced to the cast, from the venerable Judi Dench and her lack of concern for the young cats, to the inevitable butt of jokes James Corden.

Through the characters we’re taught how to live a more ‘jellicle’ life, how to tell Napoleons apart, and a Taylor Swift conspiracy theory that will make you look at the original Book Of Practical Cats author in a whole new light.

It’s a treat for the Twitter-savvy as popular memes make their way into the show: a Gemma Collins rant here, a Katy Price interview there. There’s a few surprises too; I wasn’t expecting the most awkward, funny minute’s silence or the least sensitive road safety public information film I’ve ever seen. This is a show that definitely knows its target audience, and Linus interacts with them with seemingly boundless energy that puts Skimbleshanks to shame.

This show is also available to stream during the Fringe (How to Live a Jellicle Life — Accidental Theatre), so if you’d like to be more jellicle, look no further.

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