One of the rare positives for theatre in the nightmare that is 2020 is that it has given new work an opportunity to shine as more established shows have been forced to take a back seat, leaving many fans finding new ways to get their theatre fix. One of the new works that has had its premiere this year is Catfish. Released as a cast recording just weeks after every theatre shut its doors its March, it sold out a one off concert at the Turbine Theatre on the Jetty in September. Now, that one off concert can be enjoyed by the masses with a filmed version released for streaming.
Catfish is a show about two strangers on the Internet. What makes this show all the more special is the fact it was created by two strangers on the Internet who had never met until after the project was created. The branchild of Willy Mukendi and Joseph Purdue, the show has yet to be seen in its final form so for now we have to make do with the songs and use our imaginations to fill in how it might fully fit in to the story.
If you are unaware, the term "Catfish" refers to somebody who uses false information on social media to pretend to be somebody else. The term has become more widespread thanks to two TV shows in recent years - one that shares the same name, and The Circle. The catfish in this musical refers to Jackson who convinces Jessica that he is indeed a she. A lie that spirals out of control draws instant similarities to Dear Evan Hansen but this show goes down a completely different road to that one to create its own identity (just like Jackson did).
As the show isn't presented in its complete form, there is more to talk about with the music than the story itself. The songs are all pretty strong, ranging from the more comedic numbers such as 'I Got A Nude' to meaningful numbers like one of the standout numbers the anthemic 'Love is love'.
The cast is made up of mostly young musical theatre performers who are yet to make their professional debuts. There is no weak link in the cast with an incredible amount of talent packed on to the stage. Harry Simpson exhibits great versatility through the mixed emotions of Jacksons songs while Georgie Jade's voice is quite frankly insane as DD. Jackie Pulford as the mother brings the same power and emotion as similar roles in Everybody's Talking About Jamie and Dear Evan Hansen. Her performance of 'The Other Side' packs a huge emotional punch. Other standout performers include Emily Badger as Jessica, Jamie O'Leary as Alex (refreshingly not toning down his accent in song) and Joseph Riley, who you may recognise from Little Mix: The Search as Will. All have a vast amount of talent pouring out of them and bring this show to life on stage.
As first impressions go, Catfish has a lot going for it and has a lot of potential. The quality of the songs speak for themselves and trying to fill in the gaps of the plot has piqued my interest. With relatable themes, the show feels incredibly relevant for these current times. In terms of this concert production, the brilliant talent breathed new life into the songs and has me, and I'm sure so many others, excited to see what is next for this show.
Catfish is available to purchase and watch two more performances on Saturday 1st November at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets available from https://www.stream.theatre/home