Professor of Theater Davis Robinson drew inspiration from the early 1900s comic strip “Krazy Kat” when he adapted the story of a dynamic cat and mouse duo for his award-winning theater company. This weekend, Bowdoin students will revive Robinson’s play, bringing it to the stage for the first time in over 20 years.

“Krazy Kat” originated as a newspaper comic strip by cartoonist George Herriman and ran for over 30 years from 1913-1944. Set in the desert of Coconino County, Arizona, the strip centers around Krazy, a happy-go-lucky cat, and Ignatz, a cranky mouse. Ignatz hates Krazy and devises clever plans to throw bricks at Krazy. At the same time, Krazy secretly loves Ignatz and misinterprets Ignatz’s assaults as signs of affection. Before things get out of hand, Offica Bull Pup, a benevolent cop, intervenes, often throwing Ignatz in jail.

The plot for this show, however, has much more depth. The play was created in 1995 by Robinson with his theater company, Beau Jest. Pulling the best scenes out of several hundred comic strips, Robinson worked carefully to put the play together for almost a year and performed it in Boston. It received rave reviews. Now, back with his original design team at Bowdoin, he felt it was the right time to bing the show to campus. 

“When I chose this play in the spring, I knew that it would be Election Week,” said Robinson. “The characters are animals, so it breaks away from the bifurcated idea of Republicans and Democrats. We’re all going to want to be throwing bricks at each other at the end of this election campaign. But at the same time there’s a need to heal, to sing, to dance, to be in a room together, regardless of whose nerves were frayed.”

Robinson chose to adapt the show from its original version to highlight current issues, such as gender identity. 

“George Herriman never answered the question of whether Krazy is male or female, and he often switches Krazy’s pronouns,” said Robinson. “That issue has surfaced this time around in a whole different way, with our awareness of gender being a more fluid spectrum. Now that we’re in 2016, the actors and I looked through the strip and found scenes that fleshed out that aspect of the plot line further.”

In addition to its sense of humor, the production is unique in its use of sound effects. Conner Lovett ‘19, the sound Foley operator, has worked in tech for previous shows at Bowdoin, but said he has never felt so involved. 

“My role in the show is to produce all the sound effects, and there are many important ones,” says Lovett. “Since this show is based off a cartoon, I’m using classic noisemakers, like a slapstick and a slide whistle. For example, every time Ignatz Mouse throws a brick, I can hit a whistle and a knock.”

The audience at Thursday’s premiere seemed to appreciate the dynamic use of sound—Daniel O’Berry was reminded of Looney Toons cartoons throughout the show. 

“They really utilized sound to enhance the comedy and the energy of the scene,” he said. “On the whole, it was phenomenal.”

Though the play is based on a comic strip, its humor, themes and characters appeal to both children and adults. Sophie Sadovnikoff ‘19, who plays Krazy in the show, said she loves working on the show and encourages everyone to go for a fun night of comedic release. 

“‘Krazy Kat’ is the perfect break from the real world right now,” said Sadovnikoff. “With everything that’s going on, it’s nice to spend an hour or so in a world that’s not so serious, full of joy and without hate.”

“Krazy Kat” will be performed on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall’s Pickard Theater. Tickets are free and are available at the door.