Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Review – Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof 2021
Image Source: Playhouse Theatre

Show: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Location: Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool
Date: Wednesday September 23 2021
Time: 13.30, 14.00 & 19.30
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Age Rating: 12+
Performers: Oliver Johnstone, Siena Kelly, Teresa Banham, Peter Forbes, Sam Alexander, Shanaya Rafaat, Suzette Llewellyn and Minal Patel
Production Company: Everyman & Playhouse, Curve Leicester & English Touring Theatre
Director: Anthony Almeida

The days are counting down to Cat On A Hot Tin Roof coming to Liverpool‘s Playhouse Theatre. The show comes to Liverpool from Wednesday September 22 to Saturday October 1 2021. And tickets are still available for this intriguing show. Now, this will be a major theatre show for the Playhouse Theatre. So, let’s take a look at Cat On A Hot Tin Roof!

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Background

It’s a sweltering Mississippi night, and the lies are almost as stifling as the heat is. Now, Maggie is someone with experience of battling poverty. But now she is in a passionless and burning marriage. Furthermore, her husband Brick, an ex-professional footballer, simply drinks to drown the sorrows of hurt that bottle up inside him. So, when the entire Pollitt family get together for Big Daddy’s 65th birthday, the claws come out. And as shattering revelations threaten to become uncontrollable, the family seek to protect themselves, and one another, from collapsing. This major revival of Tennessee Williams’s lyrical masterpiece expertly portrays how to survive in a society where we all want freedom.

Analysis

A new arrival was in town. After showing at the Curve Theatre for almost 3 weeks, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof arrived at the Playhouse last night. Liverpool is the second stop of the UK tour which will see the famous play stopping at the likes of Kent, Ipswitch, Mold and Southampton. This brand new adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ most famous play is new to UK audiences and although Covid intervened at the logistial stage of the planning process, what was to come after would be an electric and contemporary version of an old classic with a focus on strength, mendacity and recovery.

Rosanna Vize’s set is nothing like I could have imagined. Minimalist in comparison to other images I’ve seen of previous sets. A draped circular curtain is centre stage. Hanging from a height. Almost eerie. The curtain gives a nod to the family obscuring the truth and works well when it is ripped down when Brick falls, stumbling as a direct result of injuries sustained while inebriated. The curtain crashing to the ground also symbolising how his alcoholism can no longer be kept behind the veil. He now has to face the bones of contention within the family. The play affords us to continue our ‘peek’ behind the curtain, taking a closer look at the points of the play which at nearly 70 years old are still as relevant today. Communication, loneliness and unspeakable lies. 

Other than the curtain there isn’t much else onstage. A table, placed inside the curtain. Power of suggestion is needed when it comes to this, although frequently used, it’s never actually used as a table. Lay on, sat on and thrown across the stage, it’s the central point where conversations are had, voices are raised and truths are exposed. 

Raised benches are placed around the exterior of the stage. This is used by the cast at various points of the show, to watch the ins and outs of the scenes, especially in the 2nd act, when Big Daddy often refers to the “walls having ears”.

We meet Maggie and Brick first, played by Siena Kelly and Oliver Johnstone. Maggie is slick and sultry. Frustrated in her unfulfilled marriage to Brick, we begin with her as she is unburdening herself by way of a tirade of consciousness.  Pouring out of her in an uncontrollable fashion. She skates over lines with such passion but sometimes not letting some of the points land, missed meaning and an occasional drop of southern drawl can lead to the odd moment of a loss in our suspension of disbelief. Nevertheless, a strong and accomplished performance from a clearly capable actress. Johnstone plays Brick with conviction. He is full of self pity. A woeful and exhausted man. Drinks himself into a stupor to relieve himself of his troubles, drinking more to wash it all away and to feel the ‘click’ that the alcohol brings. His body shakes with tension and suddenly it stops as he finally speaks the truth, a positive relief. 

A superb performance by Teresa Banham as Big Mama. Steadfast and controlled, her passion for Big Daddy comes to fruition in the second act when she hears of her son Gooper’s plan for Big Daddy’s estate. We then see her motherly and protective instinct come into touch. Longing to do right for Big Daddy even though their relationship is built on lies. Sam Alexander as Gooper brings light relief to what is a wordy and heavy script. Him sitting eating leftover birthday cake is simple, amusing and oh so relatable, if only to me. What to do in an uncomfortable situation? Eat of course! Big Daddy is the man of the hour; he is played with authority. The right amount of overbearing and a touch of steadfastness by Peter Forbes. Riddled with cancer, his portrayal of someone reaching the end is admirable and well executed. He has to deal with some vast monologues but does this with ease, bringing a lightness to the role and we almost feel a fleeting fatherly instinct towards Brick. Although the head of the family, confident and knowledgeable about the goings on in his family, we find him searching for some kind of truth. 

Summary


Reportedly, Anthony Almeida hoped to give audiences an ‘exciting and moving night out’. Well, he has certainly accomplished that. His version of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof feels fresh, innovative and modern. He has focused on the characters, flipped preconceived notions and represented a classic in today’s world. Everything comes together in this intense, brilliant and intriguing rendition of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Highly recommended. 

Notes

Target Audience: 12 plus
Content: Mild sexual references
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Further Links

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof comes to the Playhouse Theatre from Wednesday September 22 to Saturday October 2 2021. So, to purchase tickets, please click here.

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