Photography by Jack Merriman with permission for Varsity

Catch Me If You Can, a piece adapted from French writer Robert Thomas’ play Trap for a Lonely Man, is coming to the Cambridge Arts Theatre. Produced by the renowned Bill Kenwright, the play promises to intrigue. Theatre Editor Sara Sioufi speaks to leading lady Linda Purl about the show.

S.S: What can you tell us about the show?

L.P: We had our 96th performance the other night in our 12th venue, so we’re well established in the play now. So its been fun to do and fun to hear the audiences react to it as we go. Its a detective murder mystery comedy thriller. Its a lot of things in one. Its kind of a heightened reality, all the characters in it are real.

“Its a detective murder mystery comedy thriller”

S.S: What do you enjoy most about the role?

L.P: Well, its set in the 60s, in a Mad Men kind of setting. But somehow even though this was written in the 60s they’ve made my character of Elizabeth a very 21st century person. She is smart, she is a working woman. So you know she is a very relatable character I think, both for myself and the audience.

S.S: What made you decide to go for this role?

L.P: I took this role on because I liked the play and also because my partner Patrick is also in the show. And six months is a long time to be on the road, but we get to be together. We get to have some continuity in our private lives, which at this stage, is pretty important. We also took it because we adore Bill Kenright, our producer. An exceptional man when it comes to both football and theatre. But also just to be doing theatre at this time, as we’re all emerging collectively from the pandemic. Its very emotional frankly, to be back in live theatre. And to feel that wave of celebration. That we can come back together.

S.S: How did you go about developing your character?

L.P: It was a collaborative process. You’re greatly influenced by the people around you. We just couldn’t hope to be with better colleagues on stage. I have the most interactions with Gray O’ Brien and he is just quicksilver. He is always grounded in the truth. I don’t think there is anything he couldn’t do on stage if he didn’t set his mind to it. That’s been fascinating to be with and to work with.

“Its very emotional frankly, to be back in live theatre”

S.S: What would you like people to take away from this piece?

L.P: Fun. Two hours of fun. Two hours of escape. That’s certainly how we feel. We feel so fortunate to have these two hours a night where we can escape into this oasis and into this bubble of fun. We had a letter that came in from an audience member a few theatres ago and it was so sweet, they just said “Thank you for letting us escape from the world and laugh for two hours”. I was so grateful to have it voiced from an audience member. And as we go now to all these very different parts of the country, each audience has its own character. In Belfast they were rowdy. In Wales they were pensive. In every instance its been a delight to play. British audiences know how to listen. You feel that as an actor. They’re with us, nothing gets past them. They keep us on our toes.

S.S: Has it been different for you, performing in the UK rather than the States?

L.P: The first day you walk into the rehearsal room you feel how universal it is. I felt that in China as well, where I didn’t even speak the language. The faces change but the positions are the same, the energy is the same, the passion is the same. And that’s very very comforting.

Catch Me If You Can is playing at the Cambridge Arts Theatre Mon 23 - Sat 28 May 2022 at 7:30pm and and Thursday & Saturday, 2.30pm. BSL interpreted performance Wednesday 25th May 7:30pm.


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