Catch, a new play by Tomos Roberts

A Play of Imagination and Innovation

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And we’re back! What a lovely surprise!

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written on the site. I have missed coming onto the blog, ignoring the 1749 spam comments that want to sell me Bayliss’ hair products and typing merrily away in the awfully formatted WordPress box.

It does make me want to carry on writing here, because this becomes my little haven away from the real world: I can forget about the exam period, my free time evaporating, and bus prices going up fifty pence on buses, and just be in my own space: my paradise. What would you risk to do the things you love?

And as smooth as a buttered-up velvet (actually that sounds disgusting), I move onto the topic at hand: Catch, an Odds On production. I made the trip up to the Islington Mill, Salford on Tuesday. With exams coming up, I’m exhausted, and it didn’t help that I had to go to Oldham after realising with an hour’s notice that I had to interview a theatre practitioner (how very appropriate!). As I said, I’ll update later, but after a lot of travelling that day, I was ready to sit down with a cold alcoholic beverage (what else?) and watch some innovative theatre. I was not disappointed.

PLOT: Catch follows two women Bailey and Charlie working at a theatre bar, dreaming of a more fulfilling and worthwhile life. Dealing with creepy co-workers, bureaucratic bosses, and zero work incentives, their dreams of a better tomorrow become too hard to control.

I’ve got to start by talking about the set and tech, mainly due to its visually and conceptually stunning appearance. Upon entering the venue, you are greeted by ushers handing you programmes and commenting that “the bar is open”. It turns out that the stage is a fully-functioning bar, where all the drama takes place. Accompanied by a talented band, I couldn’t help but notice the air of professionalism the whole performance exuded.

Catch cleverly feeds the audience its staging surprises. Smashing glasses catch us off guard, the mention of the ceiling security camera (which was indeed there) was paramount to the drama, and the sudden inclusion of video clips from the boss’ office caused a surprised, yet pleased stir from spectators. The video itself was used sparingly enough as to not detract from the stage, and thought was obviously put into this exquisite inclusion, as the boss’ detached, robotic voice was finally given a face towards the end of the play, as to suggest Bailey’s acceptance as her boss’ human side.

Indeed, it was a very interesting story. I found myself engaged throughout, with lots of different elements that, although seemingly unrelated, began to link up cleverly into a climactic finish. Despite some moments where I anticipated some plot developments and confusion in regards to the chronology, everything started to connect until the plot relied on one small moment of opportunity for Bailey and Charlie. Without giving it away, the story ends differently each night, depending on whether the women are able to successfully seize the moment. I was a big fan of this as it is discreetly placed in the middle of a nail-biting scene, adding some satisfying tension. To quote someone contemporary: if you had one shot to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it or just let it slip?

As far as characters go, I found them all to be diverse and intriguing: Charlie and Bailey’s characters are complete opposites, but their friendship is entirely believable. I enjoyed the inclusion of security-guard Oscar, played by Johnny Topping, one of the only respites the women have in their jobs and Corin Silva’s Daryl was as repulsive as he was menacing. My only gripe would possibly be to revise scenes of ‘banter’, just to iron out some exchanges that appeared forced.

Despite some small hiccups, Catch is as innovative as it is intriguing: it is competent in creating remarkable theatre through simplistic means, and doesn’t try to over-impress. Intelligent and original, Catch is a play that you shouldn’t miss.

Sorry, I had to.

Catch is on at the Islington Mill, Salford, from 7th May until 11th May: https://www.catchtheplay.co.uk/

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