Interesting questions about Lennon’s murder

Catcher by Richard Hurford, Pulse Festival, June 8, New Wolsey Studio

This is a play that has been in development for a year and the time spent has obviously paid off. Tightly written, tightly directed and sensitively portrayed, this is a claustrophobic hot house of a piece that draws you in and twangs at your nerves.

It is December 7 1980. Mark Chapman calls a prostitute to his room. The next day he shoots John Lennon dead outside the Dakota building. No one knows who that woman was – she never sold her story – so this is a fictional take on what happened in that hotel room on that fateful night.

Mitzi Jones plays the woman – beginning with her looking older and faded, coming back to the hotel room years later, desperate to tell someone what happened. Enter Chapman, already looking slightly unhinged, he rings for a companion, she metamorphosis’s before our eyes into a beautiful young tart in a green dress. And so it begins.

Ronan Summers was outstanding as Chapman, basing all his actions on the book Catcher in the Rye, believing he hears voices of people living in his bedroom walls, always on the verge of hysteria but timing his descent so that the build up to total paranoia is more frightening as we experience it along with the woman he nicknames Sunny. Jones too is a stunning actress and brought pathos, world weariness, sassiness and vulnerability to the role of the bystander caught up in the maelstrom of someone else’s delusions.

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She is almost hostage to his will, but not quite – yet does her escape bring down the events or could she have stopped them? And is it better to pay the price of fame or obscurity?

Interesting questions asked by a first rate piece of drama.

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Suzanne Hawkes

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