Ali Taylor's play Cathy is about the impact of spiralling living costs and the UK government's austerity measures on the most vulnerable in society. It was inspired by Ken Loach's 1966 television drama, Cathy Come Home.
The play was produced by Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company that makes work with and for homeless people, and first performed at the Pleasance Theatre, London on 11 October 2016 as part of a UK tour.
The play follows Cathy (age 43) and her 15-year-old daughter Danielle as they struggle to find a suitable home after being forced out of their East London flat following a change of landlord. Reluctant to move away for fear of disrupting Danielle's exam preparations, or becoming unable to visit her father in his care home, Cathy seeks help from the local housing office, only to find herself falling through cracks in the system, with no one willing or able to stop her descent.
Cardboard Citizens commissioned Ali Taylor to write the play as a piece of 'Forum Theatre', marking the 50th anniversary of Ken Loach's film, and, at the same time, the 25th anniversary of the theatre company. Adrian Jackson, Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens, explains in a note included in the published script: 'One purpose in our staging of Ali Taylor’s powerful and tender portrait of a family dealing with these pressures is indeed to open our audience’s eyes to what is going on all around us, and, as in Cathy Come Home, hopefully to stoke up an anger which might lead to change. In a Forum Theatre presentation, after showing the play to an audience which has a stake in the issues, a discussion ensues, as to what might be different – how, in particular, the protagonists of the play, in this case Cathy and maybe Danielle, might have dealt with the oppressions that confront them in other ways, to try to overcome their problems. This is in no way intended to suggest that they are responsible for their situation – rather it is a provocation to see how all of us, however little power we appear to have, might confront the powerful institutions and mind-sets that surround us, to bring about change.'
The production was directed by Adrian Jackson and designed by Lucy Sierra. It was performed by Cathy Oweny as Cathy, Hayley Wareham as Danielle, Amy Loughton, Alex Jones, Carrie Rock, Adrian Jackson, Terry O’Leary and Kerry Norridge.