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Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, Richmond Theatre

Bob Tomson's production has the potential to be a taut thriller, but feels flabby

Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, Richmond Theatre

Review: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, Richmond Theatre Not to be confused with the 2002 film of the same name, Catch Me If You Can is a small ensemble thriller that debuted on Broadway in 1965. Based on a French play by Robert Thomas, this American version, written by Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, is a potentially entertaining evening, but fails to captivate and excite.

Inspector Levine is called to a remote log-cabin in upstate New York to investigate the disappearance of Elizabeth Corban three days previously. Her frantic new husband Daniel is visited by the local priest Father Kelleher, who brings Elizabeth with him. However, Daniel is convinced that this Elizabeth is an imposter, but no-one else seems to agree with him. Is she really Elizabeth or is Daniel losing his mind?

Patrick Duffy plays Daniel. His presence will be a draw for many Bobby Ewing fans from his Dallas days, but Duffy's lack of stage experience is stark. He lacks depth and any change in gear in the role. Daniel is a man coping with fear, jeopardy and mounting frustration, who also ends up questioning his own sanity, but Duffy fails to portray very much range in his emotions. He also has a very quiet voice and his microphone is turned up to the maximum, which causes unbalance in the production's sound.

The rest of the cast is engaging, showing some sharp wit and pithy comedy in the script. Linda Purl is a smooth and convincing Elizabeth. Gray O'Brien is warm, witty and likable as the weary Inspector Levine, with a sharp delivery and sarcasm that is well-pitched. Ben Nealon's Father Kelleher is very affable and Hugh Futcher is a charmingly bumbling sandwich-shop-owner Sidney.

All the action occurs in the open living room of a wood cabin. Julie Godfrey's cosy and rustic set is realistic and functional, lit atmospherically by Chris Davey.

There is a potential for this to be a truly tense and entertaining thriller. However, what lets this production down is the pacing. Much of the plot could be portrayed in a much sharper and tighter way. It feels like there is a lot of padding, such as an oddly jarring conversation that Sydney has with a wall-mounted moose head.

It is a pity, as the final twist is unexpected and clever, but it takes too long to get there. When it is finally revealed, it is glossed over far too quickly. This leaves no time for the audience to absorb the information, which really lessens the impact.

Despite some good performances and a strong star appeal, Catch Me If You Can feels like a lost opportunity to bring an unknown thriller back to the stage.

Catch Me If You Can is at Richmond Theatre until 16 April

Photo Credit: Jack Merriman

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From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)

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