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Cat’s Cradle review at Circomedia St Pauls Church Bristol

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Apart from a single production in America more than 30 years ago, and an abortive film option by Leonardo DiCaprio’s company, this is the first attempt at a stage transfer for Kurt Vonnegut’s cult 1963 novel on the dangers of letting science loose on the world.

Miracle Theatre’s ingenious multimedia approach should in theory be ideally suited to the task, but the fact of the matter is that it takes well into the second half for any potency that Vonnegut’s anarchic satire may have on the written page to surface in Bill Scott’s episodic theatrical version.

The basic premise is that the maverick eldest son of Felix Hoenikker, aka the father of the atomic bomb, has set himself up as general factotum on the Caribbean island of San Lorenzo. There he is visited by an ineffectual English journalist who ends up as the last man standing when Armageddon is unleashed by an even more devastating Hoenikker invention than the bomb.

This thought-provoking climax is easily the best part of the play, but for the rest, Vonnegut’s barbed one-liners largely fail to register, with little or no reference in the storyline to today’s chaotic world. There are welcome touches of humour from a running cartoon joke about anthropological groupings, while Jason Squibb and Fay Powelll Thomas raise a laugh or two as archetypical English tourists abroad.

A brave venture then, but one that needs a deal more pace and substance.

Production Information

Circomedia, St Paul’s Church, Bristol, November 26, then touring until January 31

Kurt Vonnegut
Bill Scott
Miracle Theatre
Cast includes
Jason Squibb, Ben Dyson, Fay Powell Thomas, Dan Richards, Dominic Power
Running time
2hrs 10mins

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