Catch Patrick Duffy in Eastbourne if you can! A theatre review  

Dallas star Patrick Duffy is mesmerising on stage in Catch Me If You Can

Dallas star Patrick Duffy is mesmerising on stage in Catch Me If You Can - Credit: Jack Merriman

The Dallas star gives a mesmerising performance at the Devonshire Park Theatre in this exciting new production of the Broadway thriller  

Slick, sharp and with a plot twist that’s downright jaw-dropping along with a stellar cast led by Dallas legend Patrick Duffy made for a killer opening night of Catch Me If You Can in Eastbourne.  

Known the world over as Bobby Ewing, Duffy stars alongside real-life girlfriend Linda Purl, who played Fonzie’s girlfriend Ashley Pfister in Happy Days, in this new production of the classic thriller, based on the French play, Trap for a Lonely Man

But their on-stage marriage is far from going well in this enthralling crime mystery that kept the Devonshire Park Theatre audience on the edge of their red velvet seats. 

Set in a luxurious lodge in the remote Catskill mountains, a popular resort in the 1960s outside New York, Inspector Levine – Coronation Street star Gray O’Brien  -  is called to investigate the disappearance of newlywed Elizabeth Corban (Purl). 

At 73, Patrick Duffy is relatively untouched by age 

At 73, Patrick Duffy is relatively untouched by age - Credit: Jack Merriman

Cue Duffy as worried husband Daniel Corban begging for help to find his bride. When she suddenly turns up it sets off a baffling train of events in which nothing and no-one is as they appear (and believe me the twist is as shocking as it is unexpected – and nobody got it right even though it was all  everyone could talk about during the interval). 

Watching a small screen superstar up close is unnerving. I grew up watching Duffy, first as The Man from Atlantis and then as dastardly JR’s younger, handsome brother who used lines like: ‘Mamma don’t like business talk with supper on the table,’ in the smash-hit TV show. 

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Now 73, I expected to see a man diminished by age, but apart from a few distinguished grey locks, he looks exactly the same. And I mean exactly. The piercing eyes, slender physique, slight curl to the casually long hair – from the stalls Duffy could have been off to shoot a scene at Southfork.  

There were no theatrical speeches or OTT delivery from this acting stalwart. Duffy’s Daniel Corban is a measured, living, breathing man – in other words realistic, not a character.  

Dallas legend Patrick Duffy stars alongside real life girlfriend Linda Purl

Dallas legend Patrick Duffy stars alongside real life girlfriend Linda Purl - Credit: Jack Merriman

It meant as he drank, became upset, frustrated, and finally enraged, Duffy drew in the audience, taking them on an emotional journey, desperate for the inspector to believe him rather than the peppy Purl, who plays her part as a scheming blonde to perfection.  

Having starred as Helene in the American version of The Office, her timing is immaculate, and helped by Duffy, O’Brien and Ben Nealon - of Soldier Soldier fame - as Father Kelleher, she drives the play to its shocking conclusion.  

Highly entertaining, gripping, well-acted and with fantastic Sixties costumes and setting, Catch Me If You Can is worth seeing in its own right. Adding the star who entertained us as Bobby Ewing for 12 years along with his girlfriend is pure showbusiness genius – and makes it a performance you must catch while you can.  

Catch Me If You Can is at the Devonshire Park Theatre Until 14 May . Tickets from £22.50, 01323 412000  eastbournetheatres.co.uk