Catcher | Theatre review | Stage | The Guardian

30 May

There was no shortage of conspiracy theories clinging to JD Salinger at his death earlier this year, but among the weirdest was that the writer of The Catcher in the Rye was somehow responsible for the death of John Lennon. Richard Hurford’s play suggests that ??? indirectly ??? he was. After shooting Lennon on the steps of New York’s Dakota building, Mark David Chapman remained at the scene, reading a copy of Salinger’s novel in which he had inscribed: “This is my statement”.

  1. Catcher

  2. Theatre Royal,

  3. York

  1. Until

    5 June

  2. Then touring

  3. Box office:

    01904 623 568

  4. See details

Hurford imaginatively develops an incident that occurred the evening before, in which Chapman re-enacts a scene from The Catcher in the Rye by calling a young prostitute to his hotel room. In the book, the hero claims that he only wants to talk. In the play, Chapman states that he only wants to read. “Reading’s extra,” he is told. “You’d expect to pay more if I was a virgin, and using my brain’s virgin territory.”

The trial judges were divided as to whether Chapman was clinically insane. In Ronan Summer’s performance, he is clearly deluded, re-enacting psychotic visions of a race of “little people” he has the power to destroy at the touch of an imaginary button.

Mitzi Jones is delightfully deadpan as the confused call girl, but the play skirts an obvious dramatic flaw: why would a woman threatened with a gun and apprised of a plan to kill Lennon not go straight to the police? The credibility of Suzann McLean’s production is aided, however, by Lydia Denno’s design, which captures the details of a cut-price New York hotel room, right down to the rattling air-conditioning unit.

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