Review: Catch Me, online

Elegant chamber musical Catch Me receives the digital treatment with this sensitively conceived production

“Why wasn’t I OK?”

First performed in the intimate studio space above the Arts Theatre in 2016, Arnoud Breitbarth and Christian Czornyj’s musical Catch Me now receives further life with this digital version which can be streamed via Theatrical Solutions. Recent advances in theatre streaming have been hugely beneficial in increasing access but given the sensitivity of the subject matter at hand here, there’s also an acknowledgement that one might be more comfortable viewing some material in the privacy of one’s home.

For Catch Me is set on eve of a funeral, and five of Dean’s close ones have gathered to try and make sense, if any can be found, of his death by suicide. But though this musical tackles issues of toxic masculinity and misogyny and includes frank discussions of mental illness, it does so in a meaningful and empathetic way. Even when Dean himself appears as a character in the second act, it is fully in service of telling a more rounded version of his story, not to sensationalise or scandalise.

We start in the living room of Sarah (Molly Lynch), Dean’s fiancée and soon meet his best friend Harry (Cleve September), sister Christine (Jorien Zeevaart), sister-in-law Anna (Amy Parker) and colleague Marc (James Hameed). And as they struggle to process their collective loss and yet also recalling happier memories, they all work through feelings of grief and anger and even guilt at not realising the depth of Dean’s despair, how serious his issues were.

Adam Lenson’s direction clearly benefits from his digital experience. Rehearsed and staged as a piece of theatre and then subsequently filmed live in a single take, the show finds the best of this hybrid form. It really is an ensemble piece at first and though everyone gets their moment, both musically and emotionally (sometimes at the same time), there’s a flow in the script and score that brings an unerring sense of integrity to the show, guided expertly by Tamara Saringer’s musical direction.

And as Oli Higginson arrives as Dean, achingly poignant as he says what he could never say to those he loved or struggles still to find the words, there’s a clear-sighted recognition that this is a subject where there are so rarely any easy answers. Mental health problems can be difficult for others to spot, they can be hard for people to understand in themselves, and Catch Me never undersells that while constructing this elegant chamber musical around these issues.

Catch Me continues to stream until 5th December

This review was originally written for Musical Theatre Review

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