Down an Alley Filled with Cats

Rated 3.0

Down an Alley Filled with Cats is a mystery about a ceramic vase. And a red carnation, old books, cats, rats and good old-fashioned cat-and-mouse games. It all takes place in an Australian bookstore, perfectly reproduced on the small basement stage of Midtown’s Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre. Australian actor Warwick Moss created Down an Alley, which centers around two characters—bookstore proprietor Timothy Timoney (Lewis Rooker) and Simon (Ryan Williams), a patron looking for a particular rare book. Through odd circumstances, the two get locked in the bookstore overnight and begin a tentative conversation that progresses throughout the night from mutual discoveries to hot clues, cold trails and red herrings.

Warwick, better known as an actor, wrote and performed this play in 1984. The premise is interesting, and the plot has a couple of twists, turns and “aha!” moments. However, overall it’s neither particularly intriguing nor compelling, which is probably why it hasn’t been produced much. But it does have enough who, when, where and why to keep the audience interested.

What Down an Alley also has is a cast of two, which makes it appealing for a small theater. Both actors have somewhat limited experience, but they make an appealing team. Rooker, recently seen in City Theatre productions, gives us a convincing crusty curmudgeon who may be holding secrets. And Williams, last seen in Thistle Dew’s Tea and Sex and Shakespeare, is a good foil, charming and sinister (though he needs more eye contact with Rooker).

Overall, Down an Alley is a pleasant mystery that provides an entertaining evening, topped off with a free dessert—a tradition at the Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre.