Catcher – Pulse Fringe Festival, New Wolsey Studio

Dec 8 1980, a date Beatles fans will never forget – the day Mark Chapman shoots John Lennon in New York. There have been countless books, dramatisations and conspiracy theories over what drove Chapman to kill Lennon but Richard Hurford’s new play Catcher takes us back a few hours to Chapman’s hotel bedroom and his encounter with a young prostitute.

It’s a clever, well conceived concept that allows us into the disturbed mind of Chapman, his obsession with the Catcher In The Rye novel and into his background that drove him to kill. Never making a judgement, nor claiming to provide any answers to justify the crime, Catcher cleverly allows the audience to witness the gradual decent into madness.

Cleverly bookended by a present day return to the hotel room by the unnamed prostitute, director Suzann Mclean builds the tension in the small confines of the cheap New York hotel room to the point where Chapman’s manic obsession becomes almost unwatchable.

There is a danger in playing any famous, or infamous, character to resort to caricature, however Mitzi Jones and Ronan Summers deliver flawless performances. Jone’s moving from temptress to growing horror as Chapman’s plan becomes apparent and Summers manic, brooding menace slowly simmering until it can’t be contained anymore. Both are exceptional and gripping performances.

This is one of those rare performances that is faultless, with all elements of the production coming together beautifully. Pilot Theatre Company are currently touring catcher on a mini tour but this show will surely go onto a much longer and larger life.

There are few days still to go but it will take something extremely special to oust Catcher from its spot as the highlight of the Pulse Fringe Festival.

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