REVIEW: Cathy, The Hat Factory Luton

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The Hat Factory has got to be one of the brightest gems in Luton’s cultural crown.

This fabulous intimate little space has seen some wonderful shows and Cathy is no exception.

This was theatre at its best - so real that when it was over I wanted to wait for Cathy (Cathy Owen) and offer her a bed at mine until she and daughter Danielle (Hayley Wareham) found more permanent accommodation.

Cathy - a new play by Ali Taylor - is a modern take on Ken Loach’s seminal work Cathy Come Home and his more recent I, Daniel.

It tells the story of a single mother’s slide into homelessness, the impact it has on her life and her daughter’s - and how easily it could happen to you or I.

We see her juggling three jobs to pay the rent, pleading with her hard-hearted landlord to let her stay, briefly sofa surfing with her cold-hearted sister and finally picking up men in pubs so she and Danielle can have a bed for the night.

Alex Jones is brilliant in all the male roles - the landlord, Alzheimer-riddled grandad and sleazy ex husband.

The set also ingenious - a jenga-like construction on one side which looks for all the world like a concrete jungle but that forms building blocks for other scenes.

It’s raw, it’s real and it’s something that should be compulsory for everyone who’s ever looked down on the homeless.

My only gripe was that Hayley Wareham looked too old for the role - but she was still totally believable as a teenager who just wants to take her exams and hates hearing her mum having sex with strangers

Cardboard Citizens has been creating life-changing theatre for 25 years, with and for homeless people.

They enable people living on the edge of society to develop skills, qualifications and confidence through an ongoing porgramme of workshops, performances and accredited training.

> More details at cardboardcitizens.org.uk