Cat and Mouse (Sheep) was the first of the Gengis series of
The others are:
Gengis Amongst the Pygmies
A Holiday in The Sun
The Rape Of Europe

Cat and Mouse (Sheep)
was first performed at the Odeon
Theatre, Paris, in 1995. It had been written in 1992.

The context and significance of Cat and Mouse (Sheep).
Cat and Mouse (Sheep) broke years of silence from Motton about
politics. During that time, from the mid 80s until the mid
nineties, it was conventional in the theatre world to join in the
clamour against the Tory government. It was a period of
polarisation and of easy targets, and of self satisfaction on the
left. Motton, unfashionably, persistently wrote work that was
not overtly political. He wrote about the underclass, or he
wrote lyrical plays about Irish immigrants and travellers, or
he wrote painful plays about love. Even at this stage, the
implications of what he was writing, and his natural tendency
to spoil the party and refuse to celebrate the growing
consensus, were enough to make his work unpopular with
theatre managements.
For Motton however, as the stagnation of thinking continued to
take root in British cultural life, it was  this self satisfaction
and growing power of the middle class left, in opposition,
was the focus of his concerns; their influence over local
government, education and the media, and the looming power
of their influence over conventional thought that was called
political correctness, -  as well as the rampant destruction of
much of what was valuable in society, by capitalism.
Both of these made Motton's views very unfashionable,
especially in the narrow horizoned, and unquestioningly
conventional world of theatre, the real bastion of the left wing
middle classes, who saw themselves still as the rebels.

It was not surprising therefore that rather than creating a well
organised media storm, as the conventional left wing plays did,
promoting as they did the left wing 'rebel'-establishment's
views, Motton's work was effectively quashed and silenced.
Succée du scandale is a misleading concept. It requires there to
be already a springboard of opposition, and for the strand of
thought Motton represented, no such springboard existed, and
he was easily silenced. The left wing middle classes were
already the establishment, and it was only a matter of time
before they got a government to crown their influence and
confirm their power. That came in 1997 with Tony Blair's New

Motton's single handed, (within theatre) attempt to raise the
alarm was a failure and the left wing middle class juggernaut
rolled on, in power now. Motton continued to write against the
left and against capitalism both, in the subsequent Gengis
satires, but to no avail. None of his plays were produced in
Britain. They were all read and voted on at the Royal Court
however, in the famous inner enclave called the Friday Script
Meeting, where writers such as Martin Crimp and Stephen
Jeffries consistently used their votes and influence to ensure
that the views expressed in Motton's plays were kept off the
stage. There was a small  pro Motton group called, amusingly,
the Mottonistas.
During this period, all of Motton's plays, including the political
satires, were performed in France and elsewhere in Europe.
Perhaps where the criticisms of the left were either not
understood or seemed less poignant and painful to read than at
home. In one curious twist, one the of these French productions
actually came on a visit to Britain, directed by Gregory Motton
and Ramin Gray,  and led to a very brief airing of Mottonian
satire at the Gate Theatre...

In 1993  Claude Regy the famous French theatre director, who
had been responsible for introducing Pinter, Peter Hanke and
Botho Straus to France, was asked to do a series of
performances called "autour de Gregory Motton". In the event
he was already planning his own production of Motton's
Terrible Voice Of Satan
, and he suggested to the Odéon that
they simply gave the Motton the money to do what he wanted
with it, and this they duly did. Unaccustomed though he was to
such easy access to a theatre stage, Motton soon set about
assembling the production. First in was Ramin Gray who had
A Message For the Broken Hearted, in Liverpool and
then at Battersea. For the cast they went to Kevin McMonagle
who had recently played Mickey in
A Message For the Broken
.  He had played Pedro in Ambulance at the Royal
Court 5 years before. His performance of that difficult part was
astonishing, and was part of the foundation of Motton's brief
period of popularity at the very beginning of his career, as
Ambulance established him firmly as flavour of the month.  
Motton had been delighted to find an actor able to inhabit a
part that was so unusual and particular. McMonagle was an
exceptionally detailed and precise actor, who had a
phenomenal memory for notes given by a director, and could
weave unlimited indications into a 10 minute section with
devastating exactitude whilst still managing to seem as if he
been thrown onto the stage totally unprepared. His
combination of eccentricity and the highest level of
professional technique was ideally suited to Motton's method of
writing and directing. A working class scot  with distinctly
Celtic looks and a strong Glaswegian accent , and bearing a
passing resemblance to Motton, McMonagle was to remain a
kind of alter ego of Motton's on stage for years to come. Not least
as Gengis.
Next was Penelope Dimond who had been in Motton's very first
plays when he had directed them himself on the fringe in pubs
and theatre clubs.  Her dark haired striking looks combined
with a delivery that skilfully combined the  sense of outraged
maiden aunt  and sexual rapacity upon which the part was
built, inhabited "aunty" so that she was instantly and remains
, irreplaceable to any that have seen her as that character.
The Irish actor Tony Rohr had played Abe beautifully in
Looking at You(revived) Again , in the tiny studio theatre
Leicester, and the even tinier Bush theatre knee squeezer,
directed by Simon Usher, (that same play had just been
performed in French in the 800 seater at the Odéon)  Like the
others Rohr was to remain a stalwart of the Motton ensemble.
The Irish aspect of this actor of course chimed in with Motton's
own origins and therefore to his language , even when its not
overtly in the Irish voice. The grubby vulgar
inappropriateness of uncles speeches, those of a rather
unpleasant middle aged man keen to follow every latest trend,
are delivered by Rohr with such uniquely personal strangeness
that he that way achieves the required universality. The
proudly British Pakistani shopkeeper and writer's alter ego,
Gengis, with his Irish uncle and his English maiden aunt are a
choice crew to represent all that is best and worst about British
society in Motton's eyes. All it needed was Patrick Bridgeman to
record events as a suitably pompous and banal Dickwitts the
poet (named after a theatre critic, Dick Witt, who had
rubbished Motton's
The Terrible Voice of Satan on BBC radio)
and they were complete. Ramin Gray brought Nigel
Prabhavalkar who had horrified critics with the hospital bed
feel of his set for A Message For the Broken Hearted, joined as
designer. They rehearsed behind Upper Street in Islington
having built a huge "puppet theatre" as  a barely portable
stage, until  the ramshackle show went on the road to Paris,
and a good time was had by all.

The show was well received by a pleased but slightly bewildered
Parisien audience who were clearly struggling to understand
much of the ,even for British audiences, linguistically dense
dialogue, but there was sufficient , such as Tony Rohr pages
long diatribe in the politically correct mode, and the brutal
crushing of aunties little doggie, to astonish. It would later be
performed in French, again in a Ducks and Geese Prodution.

When it was over they found they hadn't spent all the budget ,
and with gallic generosity the Odéon allowed Ducks and Geese
to use the remainder to take the production over to England.
David Farr was at the Gate Theatre and being an old or ex
Motton-enthusiast from his Oxford days, gave them a week in
his theatre.

Sadly Kevin McMonagle wasn't available. A new Gengis had to
be found. They went for what seemed like to others a
"radical"or "interesting" solution, but which in fact was a
practical one. The best actor and the only one likely to be able
to quickly adapt to the Mottonian way of writing was a female,
Rudi Davies. To some, the idea of a female tyrant resonated
beautifully with their conventional thatcherite-focused view
of politics. Such a mundane interpretation hadn't occurred to
Motton or Ramin Gray - to them Rudi Davies' personality was
the key to the new Gengis. And true enough she stepped
naturally into the part dressed in a vest and the author's own
long-johns from the Swedish military service surplus
, and the
authors wife's wooden clogs
. She brought her own impertinent
and questioning mind to the part; she is the kind of person who
takes nothing for granted and whose delivery as an actor is
totally pure -shot like an arrow out of her own mind as if it
wasn't a line. She can say anything as if she has just thought of
it and will forget it again in one second. This was of course
perfect for Motton's writing and thinking which is based upon
rejecting the ready made thoughts. The "female Gengis " stood
on the stage rubbing her hands in bewildered joy, as if the
whole world were there for her entertainment.
The key to
Cat and Mouse (Sheep) is in the title. It describes a
game where the audience is automatically trying to find which
side they are meant to be on, so that they can "agree" with the
play, as they are used to being able to do, and be in the right
camp (sheep); but the play itself plays cat and mouse with
them, and wont let on what they are supposed to think; it has
been observed that the political point of view expressed in that
play can change sides several times within one sentence. The
audiences, the first to hear it in their own language, were
horrified and delighted. The taboos swooshed across the stage,
to murmurs of astonishment and shock and giggles of amused
surprise. The audience made as much noise as the actors at
some points, and it wasn't just laughter. At some level they got
it, they knew something was happening but they didn't know
what it was. Motton tells how after one performance he saw a
rather pleased looking Tom Stoppard leaving the auditorium,
"I think he had come to see what I was about, and by the
satisfied look on his face I guess he had concluded I was no
threat to his status". Harold Pinter on the other hand wrote a
kind letter to Motton declaring what a good time he had, and
claimed to have read several of his plays.
Naturally the critics were less than pleased. The last thing
they want is to be made fools of, and said so, as they had always
said about Motton's plays. One however, writing for
What's on
and Where to Go
, a modest listings magazine with no radical
credentials whatsoever, wrote that "theatre shouldn't be the
same again after this".
(Read that review in full, here)
He was wrong though, it did carry on exactly the same, and the
brief moment of collision between the British Theatre and its
putative nemesis, was all but over, theatre emerged unscathed.
(David Farr was to allow Motton to do one  more satire,
stretching the Gate's remit once more to include Motton as a
'European' in a series of European Satire, Motton produced the
timely "
A little Election Satire" in 1997. He still thinks of it as
one of the best things he has written.)
(By H.Sharp)
Gregory Motton, Ramin Gray and Nigel Prabhavalkar
Ramin Gray and Gregory Motton
Tony Rohr, Penelope Dimond and Kevin McMonagle
Tony Rohr,Kevin McMonagle,Penelope Dimond,Gregory Motton, Ramin Gray
Kevin McMonagle in rehearsals of Cat and Mouse(Sheep) by Gregory Motton
Rudi Davies (as Gengis) and Tony Rohr(as Uncle) in Cat and Mouse (Sheep)
Tony Rohr and Rudi Davies in Cat and Mouse (Sheep) by Gregory Motton
Cat And Mouse
goes to Paris
Ramin Gray, Gregory Motton and Nigel Prabhavalkar
Tony Rohr, Penelope Dimond and Kevin McMonagle
Tony Rohr, Kevin McMonagle, Penelope Dimond (on stage)
and Gregory Motton and Ramin Gray
Gregory Motton and Ramin Gray
Kevin McMonagle
Tony Rohr, Kevin McMonagle, Penelope Dimond and Patrick Bridgeman
Rudi Davies and Tony Rohr
Tony Rohr and Rudi Davies
Gengis has a few words to say to Dickwitts
the poet (Patrick Bridgeman)
Tony Rohr, Rudi Davies (as Gengis
Khan) and Penelope Dimond, at the
Gate Theatre, London.