31 May 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
Have said before that Tennessee Williams is one of the all-time great playwrights. Consider 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' his masterpiece, though there may be some slight bias as it was the play of his that introduced me to him when studying it at school. Not only is the dialogue amazing, but have always found myself fascinated and riveted by the characters, their relationships and how they interact with each other, which is one of the primary reasons as to why Williams was such a great writer.
Although the 1958 film version was toned down and suppressed or took out some of what makes 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' so bold and ahead of its time in themes and characterisation, for from my understanding censorship reasons. Yet somehow it still worked as a film, actually think it great on its own terms (have always tried to judge an adaptation in that way for fairness) and sizzled still on screen, thanks to the great performances (especially Burl Ives) and Williams' scorching writing. In many respects, this 2018 production is an improvement, with what was left out or toned down in the film intact and with impact that hardly fizzles, the opposite.
Will admit though to not always finding the look of the production to my tastes. Found it a bit drab and sometimes cluttered, with some of the symbolism (especially how Brick's alcoholism is emphasised) being overdone. Did question too the updating, when the setting and time period for the play always struck me as specific. If anybody disagrees that's fine.
Sienna Miller occasionally overdoes it in the delivery of her lines at first.
Much of the time though, she nails the sensuality and cattiness while also epitomising glamorous allure. She blisters in her chemistry with Jack O'Connell's intense and deeply felt Brick. Lisa Palfrey is a mix of boisterous and sympathetic as Big Mamma, moving in the latter stages of the production. Colm Meaney is effectively larger than life as Big Daddy but has sensitive moments like the unforgettable big scene between him and O'Connell. The rest of the cast are strong in a great ensemble that the production is particularly worth watching for.
Despite what was said about the visual side of the production, 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' has always been about the characters, their relationships and dilemmas and interaction, all very complex and powerful. The production is spot on in all of this and does so far more effectively than the film, much more complexity, more nuance and more emotional power. Not to mention it's much more faithful and retains what was missing before as said. The chemistry between the cast is so natural, dynamite at its best (like between Brick and Big Daddy), and despite the play and production being long the drama never came over as dull, the tight direction is to thank for that. The characters here feel so rich and real, not underdeveloped caricatures. And nobody can fault Williams' writing either.
In conclusion, very good with lots of fantastic things. 8/10