Thursday, October 6

Catch Me If You Can – Theatr Clwyd

Hollywood has landed in the rolling hills of Mold, with a comedy-thriller that boasts more twists and turns than the Welsh road network.

Catch Me If You Can, written by Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, and directed by Bob Tomson, is an adaptation of Robert Thomas’s French play Trap for a Lonely Man. We meet Inspector Levine, called to a house in the remote Catskill mountains to investigate the disappearance of newly married Elizabeth Corban.

But when Elizabeth suddenly turns up, her husband Danny swears blind he’s never seen her before, launching a chain of events in which nothing is what it seems, and no-one is as they appear.

It’s no wonder this has been adapted for the screen three times over; it’s full of intrigue and conspiracy that will keep the most zealous of armchair sleuths guessing until the end.

The play stars Patrick Duffy, known to millions as Dallas’ Bobby Ewing, as Danny and his real-life partner Linda Purl (Homeland, Happy Days) as Elizabeth, with Coronation Street alumnus Gray O’Brien as Levine.

Our core trio work excellently together, conveying the mutual confusion around who knows what, with healthy doses of sardonic snipes and quips.

Duffy is particularly good at ensuring Danny is more than just a hysterical husband, bringing nuance to his attempts to convince Levine that he is being gaslighted by a woman he is convinced is not his wife. Likewise, without giving too much away, Purl is required to navigate some big Volte-Faces as Elizabeth responds to Danny’s determined rejection of her, which she does with aplomb.

O’Brien gets to have the most fun as Levine, forced to indulge the apparent delusions of an old man whilst longing to be busting a jewel heist back in the city. He relishes the dialogue he’s given, ladling out wise-crack after wise-crack without sinking into pastiche.

All three, plus the wider cast, are ably abetted by Julie Godfrey’s set design, which manages to be both simple and yet rich in detail, like we have literally swung the cabin open like a doll’s house. It works beautifully as a space for our action.

Tomson is to be commended for guiding his cast through a clever script, building up to a finale that no-one sees coming and draws audible gasps from the audience.

There are one or two niggles. Blackouts between scenes sometimes feel like they’ve cut off the action just a bit too abruptly. A prop gun seemingly misfires on first go. And occasionally Duffy seems to lack a bit of energy at some of the points where Danny’s stress levels would undoubtably be through the roof. It’s worth noting though that he has a mic on and occasionally has to clear his throat, suggesting he might not be 100%.

Overall though, this remains a solid and satisfying tale; witty and smart, with the occasional belly-laugh. It’s a thoroughly entertaining affair and, despite the rural setting, sparkling with the kind of Hollywood hi-jinks that makes a good drama such fun.

Catch Me If You Can is on at the Theatr Clywd till Saturday 2nd April. For tickets visit https://www.theatrclwyd.com/event/catch-me-if-you-can

Reviewer: Lou Steggals

Reviewed: 28th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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