Home » Features and Interviews » Interview: Linus Karp tells us “How to live a jellicle life”.
Photo credit @ Dave Bird

Interview: Linus Karp tells us “How to live a jellicle life”.

It’s an hour of jellicle ridiculousness and silliness – which I think we all need more of in these times!

When Linus Karp got in touch to let us know about his new show, (playing at Lion and Unicorn Theatre from 20 October) we were shocked to realise it had been almost three years since we first came across the wonderful Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve F*cked.  And having had our ego well and truly massaged with our review appearing on the show’s flyers for much of its life, we couldn’t turn down the chance to talk to him and find out just what attracted him to Cats – the film, not, well, you know…

Did you ever imagine just how big the reaction would be for Awkward Conversations?

Yes and no. I could never have predicted it having as long a life as it did, and I very much doubted my own ability to perform it beforehand – but I thought it was the most brilliant thing I’d ever read so really hoped that it would resonate with people as it had with me. I’m thrilled it had the life and impact it did, and it will always be the most special thing to me. 

The show toured extensively: did that changed how you related to the show, and your character Bobby, come the final performance?

Absolutely. One of my favourite things about Awkward was how clever Rob’s [Rob Hayes] writing was – how much was said without actually being said. Even though I’d read and performed the text so many times I kept finding new things. It felt like for every run I understood more and more of Bobby’s world and it kept getting better as a performance. Having been with a show and a character for so long, it was very much my own emotions mixed with Bobby’s as he bid farewell to the things he loved at the last few shows.

Your new show, “how to live a jellicle life: life lessons from the 2019 hit movie musical ‘cats’” is quite a mouthful: can we just call it ‘jellicle’ for short please?

As long as you write good things about it you can call it whatever you like! I do love a long title – but having spent the last few days typing out the title over and over in emails and on social media my fingers have started to bleed and I do question my choices…

Had you always planned to write your own show, or is it something that developed during your time with Awkward Conversations?

I’ve wanted to write something myself for quite some time, though I lacked confidence and never really felt passionate enough about any of the things I started writing about – then I went and saw Cats

So what attracted you to write a show about the Cats movie? Are you a fan, or are you with the majority who were just disturbed by it all?

Funnily enough I didn’t really care for Cats at first – I’d never seen the stage show and I went along to the cinema only because my flatmates wanted to see it. I was so engrossed in the movie I had to go back to the cinema a few days later. I’ve barely been able to think about anything else since! I enjoy the film beyond words and listen to the soundtrack every day without fail. I can’t believe how cool I must sound right now! 

Can we expect anything quite as controversial as Awkward Conversations?

Well, seemingly the hit movie musical Cats is a more controversial subject than bestiality to some, judging by reactions on Twitter! Though I think the show is both accessible and enjoyable for most – some friends who hadn’t seen the film saw a preview and still loved it. Which is always a good start!

I will present and discuss the various jellicle cats from Cats, talking about what makes them jellicle and how you can apply their jellicleness to your life in order to make it more jellicle. It’s an hour of jellicle ridiculousness and silliness – which I think we all need more of in these times!

Without giving too much more away, do you give much attention to the genital debate that happened around the movie?

The show is not suitable to anyone under 18. Does that answer your question?

The show opens with a short run at Lion and Unicorn Theatre, the same venue where Awkward Conversations begun life; a good omen? Can you ever dream that the show will be as successful as Awkward?

Haha, I’d love to think so – it does feel nice to start in the same space! The shows are so completely different, it’s hard to draw similarities or expect them to do the same thing. When I started creating this show I thought that maybe no one but myself would want to see it, but the reaction from venues and people in general have been overwhelmingly positive. Who knows how far the jellicle power of Cats will take it!?

When we notified our team about the upcoming show, Emily, who reviewed Awkward Conversations, instantly replied to put her name in the hat: do you envisage that this show will appeal to the same audience?

Firstly, can I just say that Emily’s review of Awkward Conversations is the best piece of literature ever written, with timeless classic quotes such as “exceptionally creative and hilariously funny“, “an absolutely pitch-perfect Linus Karp” and 5-stars. 

The shows are really different and jellicle is a lot sillier, though I also think they appeal to a similar audience. It was wonderful seeing people coming back to Awkward multiple times during its many runs. I really hope they come back and enjoy this one as well.

So after you tour jellicle for three years, what do you have planned next?

Ha! I do already have another idea for a ridiculous show that I’m hoping to do at some point after this. I’d also love to do something where I’m not alone on stage and actually have other actors to talk to. Plus, I’m waiting for Tom Hooper (Cats director) to call me and offer me a part in Cats 2.

As always, our heartfelt thanks to Linus for taking time out of his preparations to talk to us.

Jellicle will be on at Lion and Unicorn Theatre and runs between 20 October and 24 October, including a Saturday matinee and two shows on Friday.

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Founded in 2011, Everything Theatre started life as a pokey blog run by two theatre enthusiasts and – thanks to the Entry Pass Scheme for 16-25 year olds – regular National Theatre goers. Today, we are run by part-time volunteers from a wide array of backgrounds. Among our various contributors are people who work in theatre, but also people who work in law, medicine, events, marketing and even psychiatry! We are all united by our love for the London theatre scene.