Theatre review: Catch Me If You Can

Playing at the Theatre Royal Bath until 21 May
Words by Melissa Blease

Before we start, let’s clear up the confusion that’s apparently surrounding this thrilling production of Catch Me If You Can: it’s most definitely not the stage version of the 2002 Spielberg film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a fake PanAm pilot. 

Having said that, there are indeed certain elements in common with Spielberg’s edge-of-seat yarn at play here, in what’s actually a brand new production of the classic Broadway thriller: brazen deceptions, grand illusion and jaw-dropping “crikey, how is this plot ever going to untangle?” moments play a big part throughout the plot, with sharp humour, sharp suits and on point performances from all the actors involved steering an incredibly slick theatrical ship. 

He may be only just embarking on his honeymoon at his boss’s remote lodge in the Catskill Mountains, but Daniel Corban has already lost his wife – or has he? She’s right in front of you, Daniel! But Daniel says it’s not her. Who does Inspector Levine believe: the seemingly sane ‘Elizabeth Corban’… or her increasingly seemingly insane new husband? It’s a tough call for Levine, what with both a priest and Daniel’s boss confirming that the woman Daniel claims to be an imposter is apparently well known to both of them as Daniel’s wife. And what does Sidney the sandwich man have to add to the overall mind-bending confusion? All will, eventually, be revealed – but trust me when I guarantee that you honestly won’t spot the Big Twist coming until the final scene.

Patrick Duffy (yes, the actual, original Man From Atlantis, latterly Dallas superstar Bobby Ewing) is superb as Daniel, the apparently stable, ‘normal’ advertising accounts manager who eventually – and understandably – starts teetering on the edge of acting out accusations of losing his mind; those who remember that famous shower scene from Dallas could be forgiven for thinking that, towards the end of the drama, Daniel would probably be wishing he could reenact it all over again, putting himself in Pamela Ewing’s shoes this time around.  

Working in perfect (dis)harmony with Duffy as the woman who may or not be married to Daniel, Linda Purl keeps us all guessing as she breezily flits from ostensibly calm, confident, concerned wife to possibly conniving schemer according to which of her fellow cohort’s spotlight she’s basking in… or who’s accusations she’s defending herself against. 

But it’s Gray O’Brien in his lynchpin role as Inspector Levine who gets to deliver the best quickfire quips and waggish wisecracks, holding the fast-paced developments together as he attempts to solve the whole perplexing charade. 

Catch Me If You Can represents the point where late 1950s American sitcom I Love Lucy meets Mad Men, Double Indemnity meets Fatal Attraction and David Lynch meets Alfred Hitchcock – it’s enlightened noir at its very, very best; catch it if you can.

Featured image: Patrick Duffy as Daniel Corban and Linda Purl as Elizabeth Corban in Catch Me If You Can | All photography by Jack Merriman