Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert
Bill Kenwright Ltd
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
Mar 28–Apr 2; 1hr 50min
(The tour also visits The Lowry, Salford, May 30–June 4; York Grand Opera House, June 6-11)
Catch Me If You Can is billed as a comedy thriller – interesting, given the two genres aren't natural bedfellows, but there have been plenty of successful examples over the years. Would director Bob Tomson succeed in keeping the evening thrilling yet light?
The show at least boasts a strong cast of well-liked names: Patrick Duffy of Dallas fame as lead, ably supported by his real-life partner Linda Purl, Gray O’Brien and Ben Nealon.
Central to the drama is an intriguing plot with an admittedly well-tried formula – this is a Bill Kenwright touring production after all, not a company known for its outlandish experimentation. Catch Me if You Can is adapted from Robert Thomas’s play, Trap for a Lonely Man, which has been the subject of three successful screenplays. It builds a sense of mystery nicely, with the lead character Daniel Corban (Duffy) increasingly powerless and frustrated by an ever-more complex plot against him (which of course makes him doubt his sanity). Is the woman before him an imposter? How does he convince his doubters that he is not crazed or delusional?
The characterisations are excellent, each one portrayed convincingly and adding something significant to the plot. The play is carried by a string of one-liners, which lighten the mood and help to fulfil the promise of the "comedy thriller" description. There are plenty of comic moments – especially from Inspector Levine (O’Brien).
This all seems highly appropriate to the setting of a Catskill mountains resort – the area once being a very popular summer holiday area, especially for Jewish New Yorkers, at which the likes of Woody Allen and Joan Rivers honed their acts. Set in the 1960s, the score also makes good use of Frank Sinatra numbers, which add a certain swing to the proceedings and lift the atmosphere.
While there are times when we might strain to hear some of the dialogue, this is ultimately a very enjoyable production. Despite the potentially sinister and serious content, it offers a surprisingly feelgood factor, with a few interesting twists and turns that finally result in justice being done. Chalk another win up to the comedy thriller.
Tickets and information here