Catch Me If You Can by Jack Weinstock & Willie Gilbert – 28th March 2022 – Theatr Clwyd
Whilst I’d hear all the hoo ha about Dallas and Dynasty in the school playground (and of course that major news story, who shot JR Ewing) I never watched either show; as a family we didn’t watch soap operas, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t intrigued to watch TV legends Patrick Duffy, Bobby Ewing in Dallas, and Linda Purl, Homeland, if they were appearing on a stage near me!
Now, before we start with the review, let’s make something clear, this Catch Me If You Can is NOT a stage production of the 2002 Leonardo DiCaprio film, this is a very different beast of a story! The play is based on a French play, Trap for a Lonely Man, by Robert Thomas, however, this adaptation written by Jack Weinstock & Willie Gilbert is a thriller which made its debut on Broadway in 1965.
Newly married Daniel Corban (Patrick Duffy) is at a remote lodge in the Catskill mountains; his wife has been missing for a few days, and the local police believe it is nothing more than a lover’s tiff. The cleric, Father Kelleher, visits Corban with the welcome news that Elizabeth has been found and reunites the couple. The only fly in the ointment is that Daniel is insistent that this woman is not his wife Elizabeth, whilst she is equally insistent that she is…and so opens this intriguing thriller in which a baffling train of events in which no-one is who they appear to be and nothing is what it seems to be.
If You Can grips the audience’s attention from the very beginning. Is Elizabeth
Corban an imposter? Is Daniel Corban suffering from exhaustion, delirium…or is
he a pawn in a well-orchestrated deceit? As the story unfolds, the audience is
filled with doubt and suspicion of just about everyone who takes to the stage.
Someone must be telling the truth, but are either of the Corbans telling it?
One of them must be lying, or if not, one must clearly believe what he or she
is saying. This then brings an added layer to the play as Daniel’s sanity is
brought into question. As each scene ends, another detail is added to the
mystery, and more paranoia and doubt starts to creep in. The joy of a 1960’s
based play is that there are no mobile phones, no GPS, no CCTV, which would
render the plot implausible as Elizabeth’s digital footprint would mean she’d
be found in a couple of days.
I was thrilled to see that Duffy was perfectly cast as the increasingly neurotic Daniel Corban. He brought a quiet calm to the stage, playing the concerned husband and possible victim. The audience who had come to see him who were die hard Dallas fans were obviously rooting for his character right from the start, but the way he expressed his inner thoughts and his character’s torment about this woman who had turned up on his doorstep was so believable that you just couldn’t help but be on his side. Equally, for his “Yin”, Linda Purl, was the perfect “Yang” choice as Elizabeth, a woman hell-bent on torturing Daniel as much as she could. Whereas Duffy was quiet and calm, Purl was effervescent, injecting an electric energy to the stage. There was a chemistry between both actors that you might see on the set of a TV sitcom; in fact, the plot did feel a bit formulaic and familiar, and for every bit of doubt Daniel Corban had, Elizabeth had a confidence that was so commanding, you’d be forgiven for questioning your own sanity. Gray O’Brien, as the put-upon Inspector Levine, completes the main trio of characters, he adds some much-needed humour to the piece and a different sort of energy. His wisecracks leave the audience in stitches as he tries desperately to piece together the mystery surrounding Daniel Corban and his missing wife.
By the time the interval came my head was mashed, there were obviously clues there, but which were real and which were red herrings? Around me, I could hear people excitedly sharing theories with one another…this play was audience engagement at it’s best. If you didn’t know the person you were sat next to, you were soon drawn into conversation. The script throws twist after twist, resulting in a well-considered climax, which leaves you berating yourself for not trusting your gut instincts. The play was funny, puzzling and captivating, so catch it if you can!
Catch Me If You Can by Jack Weinstock & Willie Gilbert
Theatr Clwyd – Theatr Anthony Hopkins until 2nd April 2022
Corban: Patrick Duffy
Corban: Linda Purl
Levine: Gray O’Brien
Kelleher: Ben Nealon
Parker: Paul Lavers
Mrs Parker: Chloe Zeitounian
Running Time: Approx 2 hours
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