Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: Catch 22 at Newcastle Northern Stage

Trying To Survive

Geoff Arnold, Philip Arditti and Daniel Ainsworth - Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis


Catch 22

Northern Stage

Until 10 May 2014 then on UK tour

Director: Rachel Chavkin
Chris Price as Milo and Philip Arditti as Yossarian - Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis
 Northern Stage have a hit on their hands that follows in the footsteps of their previous productions of Blue Remembered Hills and Close The Coalhouse Door. It is based upon the best selling book by Joseph Heller who himself had flown 60 missions in Italy for the US air force as a bombardier.  The charismatic lead, Yossarian, finds himself in a similar position and he needs to avoid having to go on another mission in order to increase the likelihood of surviving the Second World War. Philip Arditti portrays a likeable character who, like Captain Blackadder in Blackadder Goes Forth, finds it hard to find anyone sane in the madness of the theatre of war.
Philip Arditti, Chris Price, David Webber and Geoff Arnold - Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis
The Catch 22 relates to the idea that if someone was mad then they could go home but if they didn’t want to fly another mission again then they couldn’t be that mad. A no-win situation that Yossarian found himself in as his general kept increasing the number of missions that each crew member was expected to fly.
Michael Hodgson and David Webber - Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis
The rest of the talented ensemble play multiple roles with sufficient clarity that it is possible to feel empathy for some of these characters too.  Add in subtle music on guitar and double bass and some recorded music which allows some sharp dance routines that have been choreographed by RashDash.
Geoff Arnold Daniel Ainsworth and Philip Arditti - Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis
Geoff Arnold’s Chaplain and Michael Hodgson’s Colonel Cathcart add both tragedy and humour. Victoria Bewick’s Luciana portrays the fragility of relationships during this period.  David Webber effortlessly jumped between the roles of the Doc and Colonel Korn before jumping through the window as Major Major. The enterprising Milo Minderbinder brings a number of smiles as he brokers deals to profit from a growing black market.
Victoria Bewick Michael Hodson and Liz Kettle - Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis
The set, designed by Jon Bausor, takes full advantage of the width of the stage at this venue with a plane which the cast crawl all over. Rachel Chaven has directed a relentless play in which the action never stops as action segues from one side of the stage to another.

The ingenious show flew by and was an enthralling performance by a superb cast.
Victoria Bewick and Philip Arditti - Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis
The show is recommended for ages 14+ and contains male nudity.
Geoff Arnold and Christopher Price - Photo Credit: Topher McGrillis
A Northern Stage Production
Written for the stage by JOSEPH HELLER
Designed by JON BAUSOR
Lighting Designed by CHARLES BALFOUR
Sound Designed by SCOTT TWYNHOLM
Assistant Director MARIA CROCKER*

*Maria Crocker is a Leverhulme Arts Scholar and recipient of the JMK regional assistant director bursary.

Straight from work performance: Wed 7 May, 6pm
Post-show discussion: Wed 23 Apr
Tickets: £24, £19.50 and £14.50

Accessible Performances

British Sign Language Performance
Tue 6 May,
Signer: Caroline Ryan 

Captioned Performance
Thur 8 May,

Audio Described Performance
Sat 10 May,

Touch Tour
Sat 10 May,
Web contacts:
Twitter: @northernstage
Tour blog and website:

Tour Dates

You can also see Catch-22 on tour at the following venues:

Tue 13 - Sat 17 May
THEATRE ROYAL BRIGHTON (as part of Brighton Festival)

Tue 20 - Sat 24 May

Tue 27 - Sat 31 May

Tue 3 - Sat 7 June

Tue 10 - Sat 14 June

Tue 17 - Sat 21 June

Tue 24 - Sat 28 June

*fees apply

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook  

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