Please note the following important information for airmen wishing to avoid combat missions;
- One may only be excused from flying bombing missions on the grounds of insanity;
- One must assert one's insanity to be excused on this basis;
- One who requests to be excused is presumably in fear for his life. This is taken to be proof of his sanity, and he is therefore obliged to continue flying missions;
- One who is truly insane presumably would not make the request. He therefore would continue flying missions, even though as an insane person he could of course be excused from them simply by asking.
This circular logic is Catch-22, a military rule from Joseph Heller's 1961 novel and subsequent play which Heller himself adapted a decade later.
The story follows Captain Yossarian, and a number of other American airmen during World War II, based on the island of Pianosa, west of Italy. Its pacing is frenetic, and more akin to a sketch show than traditional theatre. The humour is bitingly funny and absurd, but with moments of gritty realism interspersed.
Yossarian's attempts to get sent home on grounds of insanity show an Army - and a bureaucracy - in a light which make Yossarian the only sane one amongst them.
This young cast of 13 take on over 40 roles; sometimes the accents are a little off, and the acting is a little shaky, but the direction is clever and the script is razor sharp.
Tom Eyre-Maunsell turns in a tender and fine performance as Yossarian, and Aled Roberts creates an outrageously comic Cathcart. Connor Dudley's Whitcomb had me in stitches, and I'm tempted to watch the play again even if only to see those scenes once more.