Before all of the drama of the past few weeks Iris’s Granny had bought us all tickets to go to the outdoor theatre production of CATS as an early birthday present for Iris. I was determined I wasn’t going to miss this and have been trying my hardest to rest up so we could go together. The perfect antidote to distract Iris from all the worries and stress lately.
I knew the theatre at Kilworth House would be autism-friendly in the way that it’s outdoors, more casual and family-orientated than your typical London theatres but it exceeded all of my expectations. It is set in a beautiful wood with wooden walkways through the trees, over a stream lit with fairy lights and then the stage itself under a magical tent.
The story is about a community of cats, all unique in their own way, each given their moment to express themselves through dance and songs.
The choreography was breathtaking and Iris was transfixed as she watched the dancers move around the stage, she smiled in delight at the flying leaps and slinky moves in the derelict London Underground station.
During the interval Iris met Old Deuteronomy, he sat with Iris, it was like old friends catching up, she looked at him as if he truly was that old cat filled with Wisdom.
Iris was moved to tears by Grizabella, a reminder of how sensitive she is to it all, how in tune to the actor’s movements, their dress and their character. Grizabella is a very old mangy cat, no longer resembling the glamorous cat of her youth. Having left the group, she is now all alone with only the memories of her happier days. She returns to them seeking re-acceptance, but her fellow cats are initially repulsed by her and repeatedly shun her. The dramatic music held Iris with tears building but all is well after her song Memory and they accept her once again as one of them before ascending to heaven.
Iris clapped with us in the applause after each act, she surprised me how well she managed and her granny and I were bursting with pride. There was a curious behaviour that at first I thought was a coping strategy by her to manage the intense music and dance. Every few minutes she looked straight at a little tent beside the stage. It was out of the way, out of most peoples minds and what I thought initially was a backstage tent for the cast. After the performance Iris walked over to the tent and it turned out to be the music tent with some musicians, a mini tech orchestra, they kindly let Iris have a look around and it made me smile that all along she knew when none of us did.
We returned home to our own beautiful cat Thula, lots of hugs and snuggles, we all feel hopeful for a better week ahead.