|Fred Cooprider, Sarah Higgason, Ted Schroeder, Benjamin Philip, and Mark Putnam.|
Photo by Al Stewart Photography.
By Tina Arth
Sometimes a trip to the theater is just for fun – no deep themes, no profound statements about the human condition. Mask & Mirror’s current production of Weinstock and Gilbert’s Catch Me If You Can is a perfect example – smart, engaging, light fare for audiences of all ages. This whodunit has characters balanced nicely between parody and drama (kudos to director Harvey Brown for this!) and enough red herrings, twists and turns to keep the audience guessing. An added plus is a surprise ending that leaves you going over the earlier scenes in your mind, wondering what clues you might have missed along the way.
Based on a French play by Robert Thomas, the Mask & Mirror version made its Broadway debut in 1965. It can be done with a single set and requires only seven cast members, making it particularly appropriate for community theater productions. The set-up is novel: newlywed Daniel Corban, honeymooning in a borrowed home in the Catskills, has notified the police that his bride Elizabeth has disappeared. The very laid-back Inspector Levine doesn’t seem to take Corban’s plight too seriously – wives, after all, run off all the time. A priest shows up and asks Corban if he will take his wife back, no questions asked, and he agrees – but the woman who comes in claiming to be his wife is a stranger. Corban cannot find any proof that she is not his wife, leaving open for a while the question of whether he is crazy or she is a fraud. After a couple of murders and lots of angst (mostly from Corban) the surprising truth emerges and justice wins the day.
Benjamin Philip is an ideal candidate for the role of Daniel – he is consistently tense and anxious, with just enough bursts of anger and hysteria to make his instability plausible. Fred Cooprider does a masterful job as Inspector Levine, and he gets most of the good lines, wisecracking his way around Corban’s anxiety and playing the role of the inept but lecherous detective while making sure the audience knows he’s actually got a lot on the ball. Jayne Furlong (Elizabeth Corban) is sharp as a tack, and switches smoothly from concerned wifey (when others are present) to murderous con. As Father Kelley, Elizabeth’s apparent partner in crime, Mark Putnam has fine timing and maintains his fake Irish accent consistently as his character shifts from saint to sinner – and he dies really well! Perhaps the funniest character in the show Diana LoVerso as Sydney, the hapless Jewish-momma who owns the local diner and makes the best coffee in the Catskills.
Mask & Mirror generally compensates for their less-than elegant location (essentially a church rec room) by building some of the best sets in town, and this show is no exception. Brian Ollom’s set design and Cindy Zimmerman’s set dressing are detailed and attractive – more than enough to make us forget where we are and buy into the story without reservation. The cast of Catch Me If You Can present a thoroughly entertaining, fast-paced evening of murder-mystery that should not be missed!
Catch Me If You Can runs through May 22nd at “The Stage” at Calvin Church, 10445 SW Canterbury Lane, Tigard, 97224, with shows at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays.