REVIEW: A shockingly truthful performance in Cathy

By Rachael Grealish

INSPIRED by Ken Loach’s 1966 seminal Cathy Come Home, Ali Taylor’s reworking brings the story up to date and follows Cathy pitted against an eye-opening account of today’s housing crisis.

An eye-opening account of today's housing crisis - photo by Pamela Raith

An eye-opening account of today’s housing crisis – photo by Pamela Raith


Teamed up with Rosehill on the Road, Cardboard Citizens, in their 25th year, brought an impassioned Cathy to Cleator Moor Civic Hall, on Wednesday November 30.

The story followed Cathy (played by Cathy Owen) and her daughter Danielle (played by Hayley Wareham) facing the social and personal impact of spiralling housing costs and the challenges of forced relocation experienced by many people on social housing waiting lists.

Watching Cathy’s situation is hard-hitting, shocking and brings home what we all know is happening around us – but we rarely see it or consider how difficult it really is.

As the performance was a piece of forum theatre, Cardboard Citizens’ work is not just to present all these injustices and situations to you, but opened the floor to the audience to ask them to stop the second performance, after the interval, to intervene and act out what they would do differently.

Cathy asked three questions to the audience: What could Cathy have done differently? What legislation would we employ to deal with the housing crisis? Why is this still happening?

The play stirred various emotions in the audience and at points, after the interval, awoke a debate in views and politics of how each individual member of the audience would act in the situations presented to them.

Various audience members stopped the show to interject their own thoughts on how they would deal with the situation – trying to get the best outcome, in their opinion, for Cathy.

Sound and visual designs had a significant presence in the play – giving snippets of recorded interviews between scenes and projections on the set – however this was lost slightly due to the inevitable lack of lighting availability in the venue.

Cardboard Citizens pushed boundaries with a passionate, well-researched and well-acted performance.

It gave a shocking and truthful insight into a modern housing crisis and asked the question: have things really changed since Loach’s 50-year-old TV drama?