Catherine and Anita (2 stars)

Catherine and Anita

Flawed exploration of a broken mind

When a play tackles subjects as weighty as severe mental ill health and paedophilia, the performance must be incredibly strong to carry it to a satisfactory conclusion. Sara Roy works hard as Catherine, a woman moved to violence by her imaginary friend Anita, but her cliched portrayal of insanity is simply too flimsy for the context.

Early in the show, Catherine is raving, as she does throughout, and blurts the words 'child pornography' from nowhere. Thus one of the piece's two key themes is introduced. This lack of nuance is emblematic of the inherent problems in Catherine and Anita.

This form of madness is cartoonish, looking for laughs were there are none to be found. Roy's intensity can't be faulted. She shows Catherine at various points in her life and in different states of mental health. Flitting easily between these different periods, she's bristling with energy. It's an unrestrained kind of energy though, one that proves to be an insurmountable barrier to forming a connection with Catherine, or the invisible Anita.

These subjects are obviously complex and sensitive. To be handled successfully they require delicacy and compassion. Catherine and Anita offers neither.

Assembly Rooms, until 26 Aug (not 15 & 22), 9.05pm, £9–£10.

Catherine and Anita

  • 2 stars

19th Street Productions All hell breaks loose when a tortured young misfit named Catherine strikes up a friendship with the mysterious Anita. As their unlikely relationship develops, their world escalates into a violent cycle of destruction and revenge. Told over the course of decades, Catherine and Anita is a comedy…

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