Sunday, November 23, 2008
It's no surprise to find a company trying to adapt Catch-22 for the stage: the Iraq War--for all its paradoxes (e.g., fighting for peace), selfish capitalism, and military glory over individual rights--might as well be a sequel to Joseph Heller's brilliant novel. But it's not easy to adapt a jerky book like Catch-22, so it is a pleasant to surprise to find that Aquila Theatre Company is more than crazy enough--director Peter Meinecke might as well be wearing a straightjacket--to make the necessary cuts while still capturing the essence of the conflict. Theatrical paradoxes establish the mood--with projected backdrops of pure propaganda and low-budget illusions for sets--while the manic, triple-cast ensemble gives life to a wide variety of stock characters that flavor the central character, Yossarian, and his plight. In this role, John Lavelle manages to play both sane and insane, and this enables the show to do more than simply satirize warfare.