It’s hard to remember, but inbetween lockdowns last year, we actually did get some live theatre! And one of those was Linus Karp’s wonderfully titled “How to live a jellicle life: life lessons from the 2019 hit movie musical ‘cats’”. Its original run was cut slightly short, but as the saying goes, you can’t keep a good cat down and Linus is bringing his show back soon, not just London but around the country too.
Being a good friend of ET’s, we thought we’d catch up with Linus to find out just what to expect from him in 2021 (spoiler alert – even more Jellicle) and whether he can still squeeze into that figure hugging cat outfit (spoiler alert – he won’t say).
You actually managed to perform in October to a live audience, how lucky do you feel given we headed into another lockdown soon after?
It was so perfectly timed – for that one week everything just felt into place. After all the cancellations and every project lost to 2020 it felt unreal to get to experience a week like it. Not only was it the first time performing live for *too long* – but also the first time in way too long that I got to see many of my friends. The Christmas run was less fortunate with the timings however…
And how well did you feel it all went then?
It was almost surreal how well it went. It’s the first show I’ve written, and having not been able to perform for so long it was incredibly nerve wracking – so to be embraced by sold out audiences, wonderful reactions and great reviews felt like a dream. A rather nice publication called Everything Theatre called it “An absolute joy” for example. Ah, thanks, you know flattery will get you everywhere, or at least an invite back for another interview anyway.
Being the shows first run with an audience, did you learn anything; any major rewrites needed?
I mainly learned about delivery probably – how, when presented in the right way, an audience is game to go on a journey with you, however ridiculous or jellicle that journey might be. No major rewrites – but throwing in a couple of new things and some polishing of what’s already there.
So you’ve not spent the last few months rewriting the show, what have you been up to instead?
Trying my best to stay jellicle in all the awfulness! I’ve slowly been working on new shows that are as ridiculous as this one, I’ve gone on long walks in the woods and hosted weekly zoom performances of classic Simpsons episodes. I’ve also done some university guest lecturing which was a thoroughly jellicle experience.
The show is heading back to Lion & Unicorn again in June, is that a good venue for you?
It’s a wonderful space, above an equally lovely pub, it’s reasonably local to me, and – most importantly – it’s run in a really nice way. The AD David Brady genuinely cares about and supports the visiting companies and lets you put on shows in a way that’s fair financially – which really isn’t as common as it should be in the theatre world.
Then you’re off on tour. How difficult has it been planning a tour when venues may still need to operate on reduced capacities?
It’s been tricky, the show’s seen many cancellations and much rescheduling. I’m very grateful that the venues I’m visiting have been so keen to have the show and on making it work. I’ve also made sure the show is as flexible as a cat – it works whether it’s a socially distanced audience or not, and it’s just me on stage.
Your last show toured extensively, will Jellicle be the same? Are you getting prepared to live out of a suitcase for the next year?
Haha! I think it’s a show that travels really well. Unlike Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve F*cked, this one doesn’t come with a double bed which always makes touring easier! I’m starting with quite a small tour, but would absolutely be open to the idea of going to many venues across the country. After being locked in my flat for so long it’d be wonderful to see the world again – and to spread the important message of jellicality of course!
Given we’ve had another few months of lockdown since you last performed the show, any risk you won’t be able to squeeze into your costume come June?
Ha! I guess you’ll have to be there to find out!
As always, our thanks and gratitude to Linus for his time to speak to us. How to live a jellicle life: life lessons from the 2019 hit movie musical ‘cats’ will be performed at Lion & Unicorn Theatre between 1 and 5 June, before heading on tour.
Confirmed dates as of time of writing:
- 1 – 5 June: London, Lion & Unicorn – BOOK HERE
- 25 – 26 June: Cambridge, Town and Gown – BOOK HERE
- 2 – 3 July: Birmingham, Old Joint Stock – BOOK HERE
- 8 July: Poole, Lighthouse – BOOK HERE
- 13 – 15 July: Bristol, Alma Tavern and Theatre – no booking link currently available. Theatre website HERE
Further dates are likely to be added. Please check here for updates.