Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – the Trouble with Reviews

I had heard mixed reviews of this play, but having seen it, I’m not sure why.  It is an excellent version of the Tennessee WIlliams classic, compelling and full of tension and lies.  On the night I saw it, Terence Wilton stood in for Big Daddy and filled the dominant presence at the centre of the action.  Mariah Gale played a fragile, but still fighting under the surface, Maggie.  Charles Aitken wonderfully captured the self disgust of Brick, completely dependent on alcohol.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a Royal Exchange Theatre, Royal & Derngate Northampton and Northern Stage co-production.  What is saved in production costs must be weighed against the complexities of designing for different theatre spaces.  This is probably the play’s only flaw; the staging is too static for the round.  Enjoyment of this play may depend on where you sit.  In two scenes, long speeches were delivered with the actor’s back to me.  The bed is too dominant for the round.

Overall though the direction is excellent.  The stage captures the wealth and expected purity of the Southern estate.  Cast movement through the set reinforces the lack of privacy in the room.  Entrances from all sides of the round smother the set and create a feeling of the world closing in on the family.  There is good movement between Brick and Maggie, although at times it perhaps feels over-choreographed.

An accomplished and engaging performance, well up to the standard I would expect at the Royal Exchange.

So the moral of this, don’t always believe the reviews!

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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