Director: Adam Lenson
Book, Music & Lyrics: Arnoud Breitbarth and Christian Czornyj
Filmed live as a single take, musical Catch Me is a frank exploration of mental health and bereavement.
The stage is the interior of Sarah’s living room. Her friends are gathered around her. In the corner, a coffin with a bright wreath of flowers dominates the space. We learn this is the day before her fiancé’s funeral. Dean (played by Oli Higginson) was due to marry Sarah in two weeks’ time. With his seemingly perfect life laid out before him, Dean’s suicide has left those closest to him wondering if there was something they had missed.
Sarah (Molly Lynch) is a lawyer. Her calm, orderly life has been shattered by his death. Dean’s sister Christine (Jorien Zeevaart) tries to process the loss of her younger brother, just months after a painful divorce from Anna (Amy Parker). As the wine begins to flow, Dean’s best friend Harry (Cleve September) is rocked when a work colleague drops by with some flowers. Feeling entitled to share his own grief, Marc (James Hameed) muscles in on the occasion.
The conflict builds, as issues (old and new) resurface. In Act II, Catch Me introduces Dean to the audience. Restless but defiant, his characterisation is a little fuller than the rest of the cast. The musical takes on a deeper emotional resonance as the events leading up to Dean’s suicide are pieced together.
Immersed in a collective grief, the characters can only articulate what they really feel in song. No-one knows quite what to say, but music fills the gaps. The songs from Arnoud Breitbarth and Christian Czornyj touch on contemporary influences such as Dear Evan Hansen and Rent. We move across the aisle in terms of genre: the blended harmonies of musical theatre fit well into a rockier, edgy soundscape. As Catch Me sifts through the discordant emotions that accompany bereavement, the musical does sit with some uncomfortable truths. The tendency to edit out the bad bits of a relationship; a friendship you might have outgrown; a baby brother that has never really learnt to grow up.
Catch Me refuses to pinpoint areas of pressure in Dean’s life: it looks at his life as a whole and there are problems. The growing divide between Dean and Sarah is too painful to be addressed. The same can be said for Dean’s dissatisfaction with work. At the core is a floating question: would any of this matter? Was Dean’s death inevitable? Mental health is not a straight line, and Catch Me is clever enough not to try to answer these questions. We are encouraged to take Higginson’s acerbic performance at face value.
Musicals are meant to be a vehicle for feelings so large they cannot be contained by dialogue alone, and the creative team have ensured that emotional intensity is not sacrificed for a good melody – we get both. This is a musical that doesn’t look away, but goes to the heart of the crisis. What it finds there isn’t what we expect, but that is entirely the point.
Available here until 5 December 2022