A powerful Southern family gathers at a birthday celebration for patriarch Big Daddy who is unaware he is dying. In a scramble to secure their part of his estate, family members hide the truth about his diagnosis from him and Big Mama. Tensions mount between alcoholic former football hero Brick and his beautiful but sexually frustrated wife Maggie ‘the Cat’. As their troubled relationship comes to a stormy and steamy climax, a shockwave of secrets is finally revealed.
It’s the play that won American writer, Tennessee Williams at Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1955, and now there’s a brand new production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre in London which runs until 10 April 2010. James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars) and Adrian (Hustle) Lester step into the roles made famous by Paul Newman and Burl Ives in the 1958 feature film version whilst Tony Award-winning actress Sanaa (Nip/Tuck) Lathan takes on the Liz Taylor role of Maggie ‘The Cat’. Lathan is reunited on stage with Phylicia Rashad who plays Big Mama, following her 2004 Broadway debut in the critically acclaimed production of Raisin In The Sun.
It’s almost a decade since the play has been in the West End. In 2001 Brendan (The Mummy) Fraser took on the role of the sullen, alcoholic Brick, whose marriage is disintegrating before his eyes. Ned Beatty played Big Daddy and Unusually, this time, director Debbie Allen has selected an all black cast for a tale that revolves around a decaying, wealthy Southern plantation owner and his dysfunctional family. So far the play has opened to rave reviews and sees a welcome return for Richard Blackwood. Blackwood has been a stage regular in recent years appearing in Roy Williams’ Angel House and The Unexpected Guest, which both toured nationally and The Brothers at the Hackney Empire.
Williams hoped their climactic encounter would have the “cloudy, flickering, evanescent, fiercely charged interplay of live human beings in the thundercloud of a common crisis”. Last night I felt he didn’t hope in vain. The Times