Reservoir Cats

Belfast's Theatre Knights put a feline spin on Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, losing none of its bite

‘Are you gonna hiss all day little kitty, or are you gonna scratch?’

Since its 1992 cinema release, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs  - a cult black comedy set before and after a botched jewel heist - has become a byword for male violence and brutality.

Dramatically inverting the film’s expressedly masculine themes and content, the Theatre Knights present the all-female adaptation Reservoir Cats, in aid of the Belfast Rape Crisis Centre.

In keeping with gender reversal, the conceit at the heart of Reservoir Cats, director Lindsay Charrington feminizes large chunks of the dialogue, as well as adding local inflections and references. 

Reservoir Cats: photo (c) Phil O'Kane. www.philokanephotography.comSo as the girls argue over who gets what colour for their 'Miss' pseudonyms, Jo - the boss in charge of the job - shouts, ‘this isn’t a city council meeting!'

In other parts of the performance, Galway, chip shops and the Northern Bank robbery all crop up, though the biggest laugh is reserved for the revelation that Miss Blonde is fresh from serving four years in Maghaberry Prison.

The original screenplay, with its paucity of scenes and snappy dialogue, is very theatrical and apt for transplanting to the stage. 

In Reservoir Cats the punchy script ensures that the show zips along at a decent pace. Personally, I enjoyed the changes Charrington made to the original text. 

The space in Belfast's Black Box is used to good physical effect. During shoot-outs the cast run amongst the audience, as gunfire cracks over the PA. The acting is competent, with Edelle McMahon (Miss Pink) and Julia Lyn Waters (Miss Orange) particularly noteworthy.

In Northern Irish adaptations of iconic American pieces, the issue of accents is bound to arise. 

That some of the cast are actually American, while others adopt Yankee accents, and some keep - even emphasise - the local brogue, is hardly an ideal solution. 

Reservoir Cats: : photo (c) Phil O'Kane. www.philokanephotography.comReservoir Cats isn't entirely successful in inserting gender issues to the piece. Too often it feels like women consciously playing at being rough, violent men. 

The performance, though, is directed well, engagingly performed and thoroughly entertaining. 

The Rape Crisis Centre, we are told following the performance, has had its funding cut and is currently dependent on the goodwill of staff, unpaid for five months. Hopefully the decent turn-out tonight will help to boost the centre's coffers.

On the strength of Reservoir Cats and last year’s successful version of The Vagina Monologues, the Theatre Knights will continue to cut a novel swath through the Belfast theatre scene for some time to come. 

Peter Geoghegan