Don't Touch Me! A tale of cats and hugs

Te Auaha Cinema, 65 Dixon St, Te Aro, Wellington

28/02/2024 - 02/03/2024

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Writer/performer: Steve Wilson


A middle-aged man wanting some time out from his crazy world stops for a coffee at a seaside café, only to have his quest for quiet thrown into turmoil when someone brings a cat to the café. This is the start of “Don’t Touch Me! A Tale of Cats and Hugs.” What follows is a ramble through Wilson’s mind as he explains all about his housesitting adventures with cats, a former wife, old girlfriends, and a strange fear he developed to hugging and how he found peace with it.

Don’t Touch Me! A tale of cats and hugs will be performed at
Te Auaha – Cinema (Level 1, 65 Dixon Street, Wellington)
28 Feb – 2 Mar 2024
as part of the NZ Fringe.
Tickets can be booked through
with ticket prices ranging from $25 (full) $20 (conc.) $20 (fringe addict).

“I share stories, and I show a few images, about some cats I’ve known, some former girlfriends I’ve known, and my fear of hugging.”

In 2023 Wilson brought Camino Man, his show about walking the Camino del Norte, an old pilgrim trail in northern Spain, to NZ Fringe, and has since performed Camino Man at fringe festivals in Adelaide, Dungog, Newcastle, Avignon (France), Sydney and Perth. Wilson was an actor and performing arts teacher in Newcastle NSW for many years, and is now living the life of a roving fringe festival performer with a casual day job to help pay the bills.

Steve Wilson

Theatre , Solo ,


An intriguingly revelatory unpacking of the title

Review by John Smythe 29th Feb 2024

In the front row of Te Auaha Cinema, at the far end, a lone man sits immobile. Sat large on the screen is a blatantly entitled, cat man-spreading on a red leather couch, while he, the man himself, sits jammed up at the other far end. The theme is set: man v cat. Or is there more to it? Note the full title: Don’t Touch Me! A tale of cats and hugs.

When Steve Wilson springs up and launches into his opening salvo about a cat in a café, on a leash, his tone is high-pitched and panicked – a bit like an Aussie John Oliver. Mercifully he modulates his rhythm, flow and tone throughout the ensuing 45 minutes, although his vivid tales are told at us, rather than with us. Rather than draw us in, Steve plays it out in a way that leaves no space for our laughter or any other overt response. Nevertheless it’s riveting, in a ‘caught in the headlights’ kind of way.

En route we get a demonstration of acting skills: he fully commits to a range of emotions; the voices he adopts include Mediterranean accents for the cats he personifies, including one in court for killing a rat. Factoids abound about such things as toxoplasma gondii and Cat Island in Japan, famous for its cat population outnumbering humans. They were originally brought to the island to control rodent populations. “It’s true – I read about it on the internet,” as Steve says, often.

As his slideshow-illustrated monologue plays out, emerges that Steve’s serial house-sitting has furnished the experiences that make him aware that cats either love him or hate him – and anyone who has lived with cats will have felt that compulsion to interpret their behaviours in terms of human emotions. What’s interesting here is how his relationships with cats begin to reveal more about Steve than the cats.

Being ‘loved’, having his space invaded, is problematic for Steve and eventually we come to understand why. While various relationships with women are traversed, it is his relationship with his father and son that bring the substance of this solo work home.  

While I would have liked to feel more closely connected to Steve as he shares his experiences, his chosen mode of delivery, his performance persona, is consistent with who he turns out to be, and why. As such, Don’t Touch Me! A tale of cats and hugs is an intriguingly revelatory unpacking of the title.


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