Theatre Review: Park Avenue Cat

This Off-Broadway play about uptown New Yorkers gets a London transfer.

Frank Strausser’s Park Avenue Cat has hit The Arts Theatre following a developmental run Off-Broadway, but its plot needs further development yet.

The play’s action centers around a Los Angeles office where one barely-sane psychologist called Nancy is at her wits end with 40-something Lily and her disturbing love affair with two men.

The play gives a nod to Mexico’s influence in Los Angeles with sexy Latino music, but little else in the play is indicative of a Californian setting.

Lily is a “Park Avenue Cat” for her appreciation of the high life – an epithet with its origins in New York City. Furthermore, her lover’s butler wears an all black suit with sunglasses at night. It all screams of Miami, or of the Eastern States at least.

The set, however, is brilliant. A clever revolving stage transforms a modest office to a swanky apartment in seconds.

The acting deserves some credit too. Tessa Peake-Jones from Only Fools and Horses plays Nancy wonderfully, giving a comical edge to the emotional exhaustion you expect from an urban psychologist.

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In fact, all the acting is fine – Josefina Gabrielle embodies Lily’s insecurities nicely and Gary O’Brien and Daniel Wyman clash terrifically playing her competing lovers.

The flaw in this play is that its performers have no meaning to deliver. The plot is merely a snapshot of the lives of a trio in their 40s who have yet to settle down and are in the middle of some complicated, melodramatic breakdowns. And the denouement leaves us with nothing more than our first impression - these people are nuts.

* Showing at The Arts Theatre in Great Newport Street, WC2, until Saturday, August 20.