Catch Me If You Can, Belfast’s Grand Opera House, February 23, 2022, Theatre Review

By Conor O’Neill

What a tortuous few days it’s been for the Belfast run of Catch Me If You Can. First storm Franklin held the set and costumes up for two days and for Wednesday’s show the audio wasn’t working. But the show, as they say, ‘must go on’.

But was it worth the wait? Based on the French play Trap For A Lonely Man, this adaptation by Weinstein and Gilbert has all the makings of a great psych-thriller-comedy. Starring Patrick Duffy – Bobby Ewing in Dallas, – Linda Purl – Happy Days, True Blood – and Gray O’Brien – Coronation Street, Doctor Who – the cast is not lacking talent either, but this who-dunnit/who-is-it? just doesn’t seem to fall into place.

The general gist is this. Daniel Corban and his new wife are honeymooning in the Catskills mountains, trouble is Daniel (Patrick Duffy_ doesn’t seem to recognise his new beau, Elizabeth (Linda Purl) and soon the police are called. Enter Inspector Levine (Gray O’Brien), Elizabeth, known as the imposter in Daniel’s mind soon has the detective in her web and Daniel’s state of mind oscillating wildly as he tries to get his point across. The detective however, charms by Elizabet’s tale sees the only succour for Daniel is the local sanitorium where, ‘the beds are hard but the walls are soft’.

Daniel must find a way to prove he’s right and the imposter is lying through her teeth, but with the local priest, Father Kelleher (Ben Nealon) eating out of her hand, thanks in large part by handsome donations, Daniel’s only hope is local coffee shop owner Sidney (Hugh Futcher) who apparently saw our much maligned protagonist arrive with his true wife.

Duffy is the big draw for this run, but is often overshadowed by O’Brien, Purl and in particular Futcher, whose Sidney gets as many laughs as he does Lazarus-like reincarnations.

There are lots of laughs, but the piece just doesn’t roll in a coherent manner. Yes, they were impeded by tech issues but you’d think with such a wealth of acting talent and experience the cast would have conquered such problems.

Hopefully director Bob Thompson irons all these problems out as the run continues.

A half-hearted ovation at the end for what was, on the night, a half-hearted performance.

Catch Me If You Can runs at the Grand Opera House up to and including Saturday, February 26th.

For booking details visit http://www.goh.co.uk or phone the box office on 02890 241919

ENDS

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