OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company Catch-22By Courtney Ferguson • Jun 9th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company
Greenbelt Arts Center, Greenbelt, MD
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Playing through June 20th
Reviewed June 5th, 2009
Based on the novel by Joseph Heller, Catch-22 is a satire about the raucous insanity within a U.S. Air Corps Base. During the later years of WW II, the story follows a soldier named Yossarian, a bombardier who desperately attempts to get out of flying more missions. In his efforts, he tries to claim insanity only to be confronted with Catch-22. What is Catch-22 you ask? Well no one really knows, but whatever it is it’s the reason why Yossarian cannot go home. It is the answer to Yossarian’s supposed insanity; because he has claimed insanity, he is obviously sane, because only a sane person would claim insanity, and only an insane person would want to fly more missions, therefore he is sane…Catch that? Ha ha, anyways Yossarian finds himself in a no win situation, surrounded by those who are truly the crazy ones.
This production was largely an ensemble piece, with ten actors and over thirty roles to be played. It is always enjoyable to watch actors play multiple roles. In a play like this one, it adds to the insanity. The entire cast did a very good job at handling each of the roles. There was a wide array of physical as well as vocal variety among the cast which made for great characterization. Jeff Mocho plays Yossarian, he gave a convincing performance as a confused soldier who tries to make sense of the flawed system that is the basis of the U.S. Air Corps. Yossarian gets called a punk and a complainer for wanting to go home, and maybe he is, but he has good reason.
Standout performances came from Karin Rosnizeck who played multiple characters, including a psychotic Roman whore, and an undercover investigator. The energy she put into each of her characters made it very enjoyable to watch her perform. She was difficult to understand at times because of her accent, but beyond that she gave an exceptional performance. Among many characters, Zachary Binney played a psychiatrist who needed help with his own problems. Binney delivered many hilarious moments, and stirred up much laughter from the audience. Particularly in one scene where as the psychiatrist, he gives too much information about a sex dream he’s had.
Lighting designer Tom Zanner made an interesting choice by having the lights flash on and off in between scenes. At first this came off as a mistake and took me by surprise, but once I realized what was going on, I found it to be a really clever affect. The flashing lights added to the constant chaos of the show and kept the action moving.
As a whole, the production was very good. My only critique would be, the show tended to drag a little bit during some scenes. The show started out strong but the energy diminished a bit, especially in the second act. The audience was very energetic, and many were excited to see one of their favorite novels come to life. The material was good, and so was the talent. I would advise the cast to do what they can to maintain the energy throughout the show. The audience is excited to be there, and you don’t want to lose their interest. As the show runs, I’m sure the performance will be tighter and timing will be better.
Joseph Heller, the playwright, asked, “What does a sane man do in an insane society?” Catch-22 exposes bureaucratic processes that destroy an individual with logical irrationality. The absurdity of trivializing life and death questions while emphasizing trivial clerical matters reminds one of Kafka’s writings.
Heller published his satirical novel, Catch-22, in 1961. The novel is considered to be one of the greatest English-language novels of the twentieth century. Heller himself, at the age of 21, flew 60 combat missions as a bombardier during World War II; he was stationed on an island off Italy. Heller also wrote the screenplay for the movie, which came out in 1970, as well as the script for this play, which was first produced in 1971.
The time of the action is late in World War II. The place of the action is an U.S. Army Air Corps base on an island off the coast of Italy. Yossarian, a bombardier, has flown more than 40 missions. Most bomber crew members are rotated back home by that point; however, his commanding officer, Colonel Cathcart, wants to impress his superiors by sending his men out on more and more missions.
Yossarian tries to get out of flying more missions in several ways, such as by playing sick in the hospital, by trying to get his flight surgeon, Dr. Dan Daneeka, to declare him too crazy to fly, and by trying to get his squadron commander, Major Major, to send him home (Major is her last name as well as her rank).
In the process Yossarian is involved with the amorous Nurse Duckett, the ambitious mess officer Milo Minderbinder, the amoral adjutant Lt. Col. Korn, the amiable whores of Rome, and many others.
- Chaplain: Paul Boymel
- Yossarian: Jeff Mocho
- Texan, Doc Daneeka, Patient, Psychiatrist, McWatt, Aarfy, Snowden: Zachary Binney
- Clevinger: Lucas English-Arredondo
- Major Major, Nurse Duckett, Nately’s Mother, Old Woman, Wes, Daneeka’s Mother-in-Law: Melissa Robinson
- Sergeant Towser, Wintergreen, 2nd Doctor, Nately, M.P.: Greg Miloro
- Luciana, Patient’s Sister, Lt. Colonel Korn, Captain Black, Mrs. Daneeka, 2nd Investigator: Jocelyn Meyer
- Milo Minderbinder, English Intern, Patient’s Mother, Whitcomb, Nately’s Whore, 1st Investigator: Karin Rosnizeck
- 1st Doctor, Colonel Cathcart, Nately’s Father, Gus, C.I.D. Man: Greg Mangiapane
- Patient’s Father, Old Man: Vinnie DeGiorgio
- Director: Bill Jones
- Producer: Maria Silvia Miller
- Costumer: Anna Socrates
- Stage Manager: Alan Duda
- Props Manager: Barbara Jacobs
- Set Designer/Videographer/Publications & Program Design: Betsy Marks Delaney
- Set Construction & Painting: Bill Jones, Betsy Marks Delaney & Greg Miloro
- Lighting Designer/Technician: Tom Zanner
- Photography: Rachel Duda
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/3882.
Courtney Ferguson is currently a student in the theatre arts program at Howard University pursuing a B.F.A in acting. Her plans are to go on to grad school to study Voice and Speech. Her credits include work on and off the stage, and she can be seen in the upcoming production of The Laramie Project with the Providence Players.