Opening this week at the Playhouse is the stage adaptation of Joseph Heller’s classic novel, Catch-22. The touring show from Northern Stage is in town from tonight (May 27) until Saturday (May 31).
The war time satire, adapted by the author himself, will be directed by two-time Obie Award-winning and Drama Desk-nominated director Rachel Chavkin. The novel, published in 1961, has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. It is often cited as one of the greatest novels of all time, ranking 11th in the 2003 BBC survey The Big Read.
Set in the closing months of World War II, a bombardier named Yossarian is trapped in the absurd world of an inescapable war. Frantic and furious as thousands of people he has never met try to kill him, Yossarian is stalked and thwarted by the merciless Catch-22 (from which, as many will know, the famous phrase originated).
Rachel Chavkin is the founding artistic director of Brooklyn-based devising ensemble the TEAM. Since its founding in 2004, Rachel has directed/co-authored ten works including Mission Drift (Winner 2011 Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Prize, Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel Award), which recently completed a sold-out run at London’s National Theatre; Architecting (Winner Scotsman Fringe First 2008), and most recently RoosevElvis at Brooklyn’s Bushwick Starr, which will tour later this year. Outside of TEAM, she has directed numerous productions.
She said: “Heller’s stage adaptation really captures the heart of the book, and this production will aim to further breathe that air: absurd comedy, deadpan horror, and an amazing hero/antihero at the centre. Audiences can expect period music, some jitterbugging, purgatory antics, and moments of quiet at the end of the world. And humour of course: Heller’s, and mine.”
Northern Stage artistic director Lorne Campbell says: “It’s the story of a man caught in the belly of the beast, of an individual looking at the system that runs the world around him and recognising it for the lunacy that it is. The book says some incredibly prescient and relevant things about the corrupting influence of capitalism on human endeavour and about the tension between what you have to do and what you know to be right. It’s one of those rare pieces of truly great art that manages to be complex and simple at the same time.”
Designer Jon Bausor’s theatre credits include Silence (RSC, Filter), The Homecoming (RSC), Lord of The Flies (Regents Park), KURSK (Sound and Fury/Young Vic), the Playhouse’s own Ghost Stories and James and the Giant Peach (Octagon, Bolton).
Northern Stage is the North East’s premier producing theatre and apparently regarded as one of the top ten producing theatres in the country. The company aims to breathe new life into classic texts, and also hosts a venue at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, presenting some of the most interesting theatre from across the north of England.
For more info, go to the Playhouse’s website.