CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Monday 25th April 2022
First Atlantis, then Dallas, and now Birmingham! Patrick “Bobby Ewing” Duffy stars in this (to me) obscure comedy-thriller from 1965, which has been dug up by Bill Kenwright Productions. Duffy plays Daniel Corban, a honeymooner whose wife has been missing for three days from the remote chalet they have borrowed from Daniel’s boss. The local police are on the case but then a woman turns up. Is she really the missing Mrs or, as Daniel insists, is she an imposter out to get him and, consequently, his life insurance?
On the surface, it’s standard genre fare, but its elevated by a dry and witty script by Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. With more twists and turns than a corkscrew, the plot keeps you guessing in this hugely enjoyable, somewhat cosy murder-mystery.
Duffy is in fine form as the neurotic Corban, tightly wound and sarcastic, and of course, it’s a treat to see him live, for reals, and not just in Pam Ewing’s dream. No shower scene tonight, alas, but Duffy has a laidback confidence, which makes Corban’s increasingly desperate state all the more of a contrast.
As the is-she-or-isn’t-she wife Elizabeth, the alluring Linda Purl is great fun, and she is aided and abetted by Ben Nealon’s not-to-be-trusted clergyman. Gray O’Brien is excellent as the wise-cracking, jaded police inspector, and there is strong character support from the wonderfully named Hugh Futcher as Sidney from the sandwich shop. Paul Lavers makes his mark as Corban’s brash boss, with Chloe Zeitounian makes a fleeting impression in her brief appearance as the bit-on-the-side, ‘Mrs Parker’.
The mystery is intriguing enough to keep us hooked, while the rich vein of humour keeps us amused as the story unfolds and surprises. Bob Tomson’s direction paces the action well to create such an entertaining evening, we’re willing to overlook the occasional stretches of credibility. A well-made production, nicely played by all concerned. (There was an issue of patchy microphone coverage at the performance I saw. I prescribe a thorough soundcheck before the curtain goes up again.)
All in all, it’s good fun. Catch it while you can.
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆