I had the pleasure of seeing a terrific new play this weekend at York Theatre Royal. It was called ‘Catcher – Before Chapman Shot Lennon‘. As many of you know, Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon was obsessed with J D Salinger’s ‘Catcher In The Rye’ The book was in his possession when he shot Lennon, in fact it is said that after he fired those fatal shots he sat down to read the book until the police came. I think he was obsessed with Holden Caulfield, the book’s principal character as well as with fame itself. Before he killed John Lennon he had previously been photographed with Stephen King and Bob Dylan amongst others. Click here to read a really strange and frankly highly unbelievable conspiracy theory that it was Stephen King that shot John Lennon. Personally I think this is complete and utter tosh!
Anyway, back to the play. It is believed that Chapman hired a prostitute and had her come to his hotel on the night before the killing. This woman has never been found and has never made herself known. The play is based on the conversations that Chapman my have had with his hooker in his room. There are just two actors in the whole play which lasts 75 minutes. Mitzi Jones plays the prostitute, both as her older self narrating past events and as her younger self in the room with Chapman. The way she portrays both characters is phenomenal, with just a few simple changes to her clothes and hair, which for me proves how talented an actress she is. Ronan Summers plays Chapman and he, like Mitzi, is brilliant. Very intense and he really seems to capture the potential madness and imbalance in Chapman’s personality.
Obviously as a music fan I was keen to see this play and I would like to thank Rachel V for booking it for us (Rachel, Catwoman and me). If you get the chance to see it you really should, I am sure you won’t be disappointed. You can read a couple of reviews of the play here; One in the York Press and the other from The Stage
In a bizarre coincidence I finished Nick Kent’s (a former NME scribe) 70s memoir ‘Apathy For The Devil’ the day after I saw the play and he mentions Lennon’s murder. He said that he had read a book which gave details of every Beatles session, quite a weighty tome I believe! He read it a few years after the murder and spotted a strange thing. Apparently in the early versions of “Come Together” Lennon opened his vocal with the phrase ‘Shoot Me’ George Martin changed this to ‘Shoo’ as allegedly he felt this would be more acceptable to the record buying public.
OK as this is very much a John Lennon related post here are three of my favourite Lennon songs
“Instant Karma” – Without doubt my most favourite Lennon song ever
“Whatever Gets You Through The Night” – Perhaps not his most popular song, but I loved it from when I first got the ‘Walls And Bridges’ album on cassette back in the mid 70s. Elton John also plays piano, organ and provides backing vocals on the track. This is a live version recorded at an Elton gig from Madison Square Garden in 1974
“Woman Is The Nigger Of The World” – This is taken from the underrated ‘Sometime In New York City’ album. The song is based on a phrase first coined by Yoko Ono in the late 60s to describe the oppression of women, which is indeed what the song is all about. The use of the word nigger had the song banned from many US radio stations. This clip has Lennon explaining the song to Dick Cavett
Hi, thank you so much for posting your comments about Catcher on your blog. I’m the director of Catcher and it’s so good to hear the affect that the play has on its audience.
I’ve added your comments to my Director Blog. I personally love the show; it marks an important time in our cultural history and highlights so many points on the modern obsession with fame and celebrity.
Thanks for coming, for enjoying and for spreading the word.
And of course a big thank you to Rachel V for booking your tickets.