Researchers shed light on the first-ever English novel with theatre performance

Beware the Cat 
Saturday 6 July, 5pm | Free but ticketed
The Other Place

2 cats talking for sitefinity
Image by Penny McCarthy
Image by Penny McCarthy © Penny McCarthy Browse and license our images

What would animals say about the world if they could talk?

This funny, satirical one-hour performance emerges from a collaborative process between artists and academics responding to the first ever English novel by William Baldwin. A tall tale of magical attempts to understand the language of cats, with unique artworks representing the cat-world by artist Penny McCarthy.

Book Tickets

Price Range (£)

Does not include discounted tickets half price under 18s available on Monday to Friday performances. See a full list of discounts

Sat 6 Jul 2019
The Other Place,
Not available

Barbican Theatre

Tickets for this production at the Barbican Theatre are available directly from the venue.


Or call the Barbican Box Office directly: 020 7638 8891
(10am–8pm Mon–Sat, 11am–8pm Sun)

Theatre Royal Haymarket

Tickets for this production at the Theatre Royal Haymarket are available directly from the venue.


Or call the Theatre Royal, Haymarket Box Office directly: 020 7930 8800
(10am–7:45pm Mon–Sat)

Gielgud Theatre

Tickets for this production are no longer available through the RSC

Please click HERE to be redirected to the Gielgud Theatre for tickets

Matilda The Musical

The RSC Box Office currently doesn’t have an allocation of tickets for this performance.

However, tickets can still be booked through The Cambridge Theatre.


Or call the Cambridge Theatre: 020 7087 7744

There are no tickets available for this performance

There may be returns available nearer the time

Please call the Box Office on 01789 331111 for more information
(10am-6pm UK time, Monday-Saturday)

More about the event

The world’s first ever English novel – a little known satire of magic and religious controversy written during a time of immense political and social change across England and Europe – has been brought to life by researchers at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam and Sussex.

The novel, Beware the Cat, was first written in 1552 before many of the more well-known early modern writers published their first work. It tells a tale of witchcraft, religious controversy, and talking cats in a bid to help us imagine what animals might say about the world if they had the ability to talk.

Centred on the grisly alchemical experiments of a rambling priest seeking to understand the language of cats, the story asks a question that has provoked humans across the ages: do birds and beasts have reason?

Professor Frances Babbage from the University of Sheffield’s School of English and Dr Rachel Stenner from the School of English at the University of Sussex have worked with Terry O’Connor from UK theatre ensemble Forced Entertainment and Penny McCarthy from Sheffield Hallam’s Fine Art department on a project to adapt the novel into a theatre performance for audiences across the UK to see. They were joined in this piece of collaborative research by Dr Bob McKay, Dr Bill McDonnell, Dr Robyn Orfitelli and Professor Adam Piette

Beware the Cat is a FREE event made possible through funding by:

University of Sheffield, Festival of the Mind,
Society for Renaissance Studies,
University of Sussex, Higher Education Innovation Fund

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