You can see the attraction: Catcher in the Rye has been challenged for use in US schools for its vulgar language, sexual references, blasphemy, undermining family values, moral code, encouraging of rebellion, promiscuity, drinking, smoking lying and sexual abuse. Now that’s a mix the lively student audience at BT could enjoy.
But what of today? Isaac Troughton’s hugely enjoyable immersive comedy hit the bull’s eye: who knew what was going on as the audience squeezed in to every chair? The play within the play featured some quacking, carousel work and a man on all fours - it was a JD Salinger nightmare.
Luckily, a Q&A followed. Surely some light would be shed during the panel discussion with members of the physical theatre company, chaired by hapless Sam Collins (El Wood)? As Holden Caulfield might say: ‘Shoot the bull’.
The fictional cast struggled to articulate conflicting interpretations, which rapidly became personal. There were shocks: Jasper
Yet Tom Saer's Lawson commanded savage loyalty from Sylvia (energetic Fifi Zanabi). Here was a blackmailing OAP super-fan with a set of photographs and a Kalashnikov intent on union at any cost. Meanwhile, a beautiful, dreamy American actress Niamh Greenfield (Olya Makarova) led us in a session of erotic meditation (Think When Harry Met Sally). That killed me.
Most exciting of all was the emergence from the studio darkness of a contemporary Holden Caulfield – an apathetic A level drama student in a Nirvana T-shirt called Jesse Clark (marvellously played by languid Isaac Troughton who also wrote, directed and produced Q&A). Jesse’s speech on alienation and loneliness proved the most authentic of the evening, wiring the room, and silencing the waspish Guardian critic Clive Edwards (Jack Blowers).
‘This kid’s performance earlier was a much more convincing portrayal of teenage apathy than I’ve ever seen from Seb, and he’s only here to pass his fucking A –levels’, Edwards comments. George W Bush paid tribute to ‘a marvellous book’. We all got a bang out of that. You will too if you catch a future performance.