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Theatre review – Catch 22 – The Biscuit Factory

Tues 12th – Sat 16th Nov 2019

Review by Laura Woodland

Running time: Two hours and 25 minutes (including one interval).

 

Catch 22 is, of course, a novel which has made it into our everyday vernacular. We are all aware of the paradox it poses, a choice with no clear benefit. Joseph Heller’s original anti-war novel presented the absurdity of war through the clear decisions that are in their essence mad – to want to continue to fly bomber planes, you must be insane. We see Captain Yossarian fight this deathly paradox live in front of us in EGTG’s new stage production of the piece. 

EGTG has brought to us a stellar production exploring the original text. Catch 22, is a fast-paced, energetic play, where the action constantly shifts and jumps, reflecting the maddening subject. The moments of absurdity become paced into the piece at regular intervals, becoming routine in the absurd, and even comical. The characters are vividly represented and their slightly melodramatic portrayals fit with the overall themes of insanity and absurdity. 

The one drawback perhaps is that the themes can lose their subtlety that the novel form allows, there is no opportunity to consider the absurd, again and again, and again. Time is not available for some sub-plots to be fully explored, a play is only so long. That’s not to say that the production should have made different decisions in the staging and pacing of the piece, no, it is their energy and vivacity which truly makes this show work.  There is however the question: why transform a masterpiece? Then again, why not?

The Biscuit Factory, with its broken down setting becomes a wonderful background to the minimalist staging. The audience though shivering – bring tea and blankets, there’s no heating – are constantly absorbed in the ever-shifting and engaging piece, for this, director Hannah Bradley should be commended. The choice of a thrust stage leaves the audience enclosed around the piece, almost a part of it. 

It’s only running for a few more nights, which is a shame as you can see a lot of work and effort went into making this happen. Ultimately, it’s an engaging and at times funny piece which gives a wonderful insight into the novel’s themes.

The Biscuit Factory, 4-6 Anderson Place, EH6 5NP

Tuesday 12th – Saturday 16th November 2019 7.30 pm.

Tickets £12 in advance: Book here

£15 on the door.

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