Whether you have read the classic novel by Joseph Heller or not, the phrase ‘Catch 22’ will be a familiar one. Directed by Rachel Chavkin, this is a moving story of a soldier desperate to stop fighting for his country and start looking after himself. Our reviewer Ashley Manning went to see the play at the Liverpool Playhouse…
Staged upon a large dissected plane, the scenery was apt to a cliché war setting, as it sported the usual props of khaki rucksacks and posters of war time pinups.
Yossarian, stationed with his squadron on the Mediterranean coast, no longer wants to fly fighter planes as he has completed over 50 missions. He is told that the only way to be grounded is to claim he is insane. However, there is a catch; catch 22. There is no real way to abandon his duties as a soldier and as the play unravels it’s clear that it’s a hard lesson for the protagonist to learn.
Chavkin’s adaptation illustrates the absurdity of the governmental system at the time of World War 2 in which a warped logic was placed onto the chaos in order to maintain the control of civilians and soldiers which no one could escape. The play succeeds in highlighting this issue with its exhausting dialogues and its moments of surreal behaviour.
The acting was brilliant. Philip Arditti’s performance as Yossarian was both convincing and explosive and was complimented perfectly by the cast who embodied characters who were driven and damaged by the war and also often deranged by it.
It entwines both comedy and tragedy to explore the concept of the phrase Catch 22 giving a sympathetic but also massively entertaining performance that hits home about the fear of death and war. This is a play that dramatically examines the cost to humanity during a historically momentous disaster in which humanity could never truly win.
You can read the original published article here.