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Catch Me by Arnoud Breitbarth & Christian Czornyj

Catch Me is a new musical written by Arnoud Breitbarth and Christian Czornyi and directed by Adam Lenson, that debuted in 2016 at the Arts Theatre in London and was recorded live at the Stone Nest in London and made available in digital format by Theatrical Solutions, with a strong West End cast.

Catch Me By Arnoud Breitbarth & Christian Czornyj
Catch Me By Arnoud Breitbarth & Christian Czornyj.

I watched it online, the video and sound quality is flawless, and the production is top quality, I did not feel I missed anything by not being able to attend the live show. The musical tells the story of Dean (Oli Higginson), who commits suicide two weeks before his wedding, and his friends, family and colleague trying to deal with this sudden and in many ways unexpected death and with the soul-crushing question: “Could I have done more to avoid his suicide?

As you can guess from the plotline and the disclaimers at the start of the show (The show contains strong language, themes of suicide, toxic masculinity, misogyny and mental health) this is not a light-hearted musical. It tries to tackle some fundamental questions and issues, why people commit suicide, how people can deal with the suicide of a loved one, and how mental health problems can affect everybody and are often difficult to spot.

Sarah (Molly Lynch) is Dean’s wife-to-be, and the story starts at her home, with Dean’s coffin in the living room, the day before the funeral. We meet Christine (Jorien Zeevaart), Dean’s older sister, her wife Anna (Amy Parker), Dean’s self-proclaimed best friend Harry (Cleve September) and Marc (James Hameed) a colleague of Dean. They all struggle to deal with the loss and the suicide, swinging between a deep sense of loss and sadness, to anger against Dean for the selfish death, to guilt because in some way each one of them feels responsible for Dean’s death, for not having done more or for not having spotted the desperation in Dean.

They reminisce about Dean’s life, good and bad times, they try to help each other understand the reasons behind the suicide, and they try to move forward. They fight, they console each other, they shout, they cry, in an endless emotional roller coaster. We learn a bit more about Dean’s real life, his problems and his struggles, and in the second act, we also get his point of view, as he tries to make sense of his suicide.

Without spoiling much, the musical does not have a happy ending and does not answer many of the questions raised, as for the majority of them, there is not really an answer. Having struggled for most of my life with mental health problems (albeit light ones compared to Dean), I appreciated how the musical raises awareness of the issue, how it shows mental health problems can be difficult to spot and how difficult they can be to treat and to understand. I felt particularly close to the scene where Dean tries to make sense of himself and of suicide – because I found myself saying or doing things during panic attacks or periods of intense anxiety that in better times I struggled to justify, and felt important to stress that in these bad moments people can say or do things that do not necessarily have a rational explanation.

I think it is a musical that needs to be seen; while not all scenes are perfect and in some instances, I would have expected stronger emotional responses from some of the characters, the music and the songs are flawless. The cast is superb – most issues are treated with the respect they deserve and it is important to keep raising awareness about mental health issues. Not surprising that the musical is supported by some big names, like the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and The National Lottery through Arts Council England. With small tweakings in the narrative and the characters, this could become a strong West End musical, in the footstep of Dear Evan Hansen; nonetheless, even in its present form it deserves to be seen, digitally or in person does not matter, and hope many people will have a chance to do it.

4 stars

Review by Fabio Ghiotto

Five friends attempt to come to terms with the recent and unexpected death of Dean. Gathered on the eve of his funeral they cry, laugh, and reminisce. Though one question remains: why did he kill himself?

With book, music, and lyrics by award-winning writers Arnoud Breitbarth and Christian Czornyj, Catch Me is an intimate musical with a hard hitting story that will make you smile, question, and cry.

Filmed live in London’s West End at the iconic Stone Nest, the all star cast and live band present a uniquely different piece of musical theatre that can’t afford to be missed.

Sarah – Molly Lynch
Christine – Jorien Zeevaart
Harry – Cleve September
Anna – Amy Parker
Marc – James Hameed
Dean – Oli Higginson

Writers – Arnoud Breitbarth & Christian Czornyj
Director – Adam Lenson
Music Director – Tamara Saringer
Orchestration – Connor Gallagher
Lighting Design – Richard Williamson
Costume & Set Design – Libby Todd
Sound Design – Christian Czornyj
Dramaturg – Shannon Ashleigh Navarro
Stage Management – Anouk Scheepens

Piano / Conductor – Tamara Saringer
Cello – Jon Kitchen
Guitar – Daniel Vidlósola

By Arnoud Breitbarth & Christian Czornyj

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