Wax nostalgic for the pandemic shutdown as Red Theater presents the world premiere of Indoor Cats by Mora V. Harris, directed by Wyatt Kent. Meet Jules (Karylin Veres), an entitled, selfish twentysomething “artiste” whose fellowship gets canceled, leaving her to endure the early days of COVID at her parents’ second home, a cottage in the woods. Her pregnant sister, Willa (Julia Rowley), checks in on her distressed sibling, who is set on making stop-motion animation videos. When Jules meets her outdoorsy neighbor, Pete (Ian Maryfield), who makes bird videos for cats, the two hit it off. All the while, Jules’s cat, Panda (Sarah Wisterman), darts in and out with the preternatural wisdom of animal activity around the globe and the occasional deep insight.
Through 3/12: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Mon 2/27 and 3/6 and Wed 3/8 7:30 PM; The Edge Off-Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa, redtheater.org, $20 ($40 “pay it forward”)
Somewhere there is a more satisfying and engaging play featuring Pete and Panda, who Maryfield and Wisterman respectively play with immediacy, energy, and spot-on comedic timing. They’re both positively delightful to watch on stage. Harris’s play, though, centers more on Jules, whose selfishness gets exhausting as she never changes or develops. Indoor Cats presents characters with potential but gets bogged down in being too plot-driven with manufactured emotions and unearned conflicts. There are great lines and insights that call for a pause or breath from the actors to help them land. It seems Harris is implying that some young people are much like indoor cats, suffering the privilege of being more comfortable at home, moody, and unprepared to survive the outside world. Which is kind of sad.