Ronan Summers is a bespectacled Mark Chapman
19 May 2010 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews At first glance, you could be mistaken for believing this to be the story of John Lennonís notorious assassin Mark Chapman. Is it in fact the story of Sunny, the prostitute Mark hires just to have a decent conversation with the night before his murder? Or could it be the story of John Lennon? Maybe itís the story of Holden Caulfield, protagonist of Salingerís 1951 novel Catcher In The Rye?
Set on the eve of Lennonís assassination, 7 December 1980,
Catcher is a culmination of everyoneís stories, not just those characters physically present. Mark (held together grippingly by an energetic Ronan Summers) explains that as opposed to trying to connect with characters in a novel, maybe the characters in the novel are trying to connect with the reader. Here Sunny is reaching out to us, the audience, to tell her story. This is a play about finding a connection, whether through music or through the page.
The well-crafted script snaps with a speedy pace throughout a 75 minute performance, which feels like it takes a whole evening to unfold; Hurfordís writing overall delivers a tight and consistent fictionalisation of this surreal encounter.
Catcherís set works well in the small environment of Yorkís Studio, the tight, nattily-patterned hotel room designed by Lydia Denno creeping out into our lives.
Though I donít possess an in-depth knowledge of
Catcher In The Rye or the psychology of the real Mark Chapman, that feels irrelevant in this format. Mark talks about living, reliving and rewriting the story, and thanks to Summerís performance of a man with boundless enthusiasm and childlike spirit we almost feel compelled to invest in Markís campaign, just as Sunny seems to at certain points. Markís cause almost seems justifiable, especially with Sunny linking the celebrity-obsessed culture of the early 80s to the present day. But director Suzann McLean offers several safeguards: at one point Mark calls for his tiny citizens that live in the walls of his world to support his cause, but they refuse to follow his anti-phony campaign.
While the play begins in a rather vague, confusing manner, without a real establishment until the audience are invited to piece the tale together,
Mitzi Jones holds the performance together tightly with her two roles of the older and younger Sunny. However, itís a good thing director McLean places emphasis on character, situation and relationships; I get the feeling there was a technical error at the beginning with the flickering TV screen, proving Pilot Theatre need not always place their faith in new technologies, but in the grip of a fast script and dedicated actors.
- Henry Raby
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