Locked Up Bitches

Bull (Ryan Wesley Stinnet) leads a pack of pups (The Bats) into a cat fight in Catya McMullen’s Locked Up Bitches, at the Flea’s Siggy Theater. Original photo by Hunter Canning.

By Andrew Andrews

Honestly, they had us with the title: Locked Up Bitches. I mean, how could you not want to see a play with a name like that, even if you didn’t know anything else about the show? And then, to find out it takes place in an animal shelter—with anthropomorphic dogs and cats—and that it’s a hip hop musical (like Hamilton, for pup’s sake!)—and that it’s spoofing Orange is the New Black—I mean, seriously: how could you not want to catch it?

And so catch it, we did. And if you didn’t already think you’re in for something different when you experience this performance, consider that upon arrival, as soon as you pick up your tickets, your next step is the new animal onboarding process, where you have to decide whether you’re a bitch or a pussy, and then don the appropriate ears for the show. And yes: it matters. Because there’s a little bit of call-and-response in this show, too, and whether you’re a bitch or a pussy determines whether you’re in the chorus of “cat power!” or “we are strong, powerful bitches!” And when the house opens, you don’t enter the theater: you head down a cement-block corridor and into the Bitchfield Animal Shelter, posted with signs that dictate acceptable behavior and warn you that this is a “No Peeing Zone.” And aside from Animal Control Officer Pubestache (Alex Haynes), the entire cast (collectively known as The Bats) will be on stage, shaking their haunches to hip hop music, with the pups among them humping each other and the walls, and the kitties taunting the pussies in the audience with cat toys.

Now, before you get any thoughts about bringing the family to this show: let me remind you that this is a prison spoof. Which means incessant F-bombs. Which means prison sex. Which means no, no, no for the kiddies, unless you want to put yourself in a situation where you have a lot of explaining to do.

If you’re not already off buying tickets for tonight’s performance (which would mean that nobody is reading this now), then either you haven’t been paying attention, or you previously fell asleep during Cats and are afraid of repeating the experience. Let me assure you, though, that this isn’t one of those shows where only an animal lover can stay awake: full of low-brow one liners (such as “pussy gotta eat,” “what happens in Europe stays in Europe” and “I want payback for years of bitch injustice”), parodies of songs that you’ll immediately recognize (including Pat Benatar’s We Belong, J.T.’s Cry me a River and an all-feline rendition of M.J.’s Thriller—with its own line dance, of course) and even a couple of skinhead cats, Locked Up Bitches is gonna teach you something you didn’t know (and maybe, didn’t want to know) about what goes on in the minds of our incarcerated, furry little friends. So check it out, then come back here and tell us what Bitchfield Animal Shelter taught you. Whether it’s right up your alley (cat) or you feel it wasn’t anything to howl about, your reviews help others decide whether they should attend, and your ratings help us help you find future anthropomorphic musicals you’re sure to love!

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Andrew Andrews attended Locked Up Bitches at Flea Theatre in New York on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 @ 6:00pm to write this review.

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