Another Cat and Another Moon
nytheatre.com review by Maggie Cino
August 15, 2004
Another Cat and Another Moon is a reinterpretation, by the company Metro Clowns, of W.B. Yeats' 1917 poetic play The Cat and the Moon, which is about two beggars, one blind and the other lame, who go on a journey together. The problems with this production are unfortunately apparent even before the play begins. The program gives short explanations of Noh and Commedia, as well as brief definitions of broad symbols like the trickster and the circle. If explanations of this sort are necessary, it is often the case that the piece is not clear. While Another Cat and Another Moon is spirited and done with heart, it is also unfocused and difficult to follow.
Part of the problem is putting poetry in the mouths of actors who simply don't have the technical expertise to deal with it. The majority of the text is assigned to an actor whose command of English is problematic. He's accompanied by an actor who speaks so energetically that it's difficult to understand what he says. They're backed by a very expressive dancer who has a less-than-expressive voice. Regrettably, the fourth actor, who seems to have a clear, strong voice, is almost entirely mute during the play.
This Yeats play is not well known, so the added subplot of personal clown characters only confused matters. To the group's credit, they are attempting something supremely difficult. Using clown personae in a classical text is challenging. Even Bill Irwin, whose attempts at this are the best known, fails more often than he succeeds.
The play does have a consistent visual aesthetic. The feel is of a 19th century nursery and the costumes suggest children dressing up like cats and ballerinas. There are a few stage tricks, such as a white parasol that becomes the moon, that are subtle and suggestive. But the confusion of the piece was encapsulated at the end of the performance, which consists of many tiny scenes interspersed with blackouts. The first blackout started the audience's closing applause, which awkwardly stopped as it became clear that the piece was not yet finished. Several tableaux later, the cast struck their final pose. And held it. And held it. And held it. Realizing our bafflement, the venue director began clapping. And we as the audience gratefully followed suit.