Theatre | Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Review

4/5 stars

In this adaptation of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ everything does what it says on the tin. Heroine Maggie ‘the Cat’ (Zoe Boyle) slinks, purrs and pounces in her attempts to seduce her stoic husband, Brick (Jamie Parker), who, true to his name, is stony and silent in the face of her advances. His parents, Big Daddy and Big Mama, hugely foul and hugely vulgar respectively, have the biggest stage presence.

The key adjective for the whole endeavour must surely be hot. Enough so that, on a rainy October evening in Yorkshire, director Sarah Esdaile’s production had the audience fanning themselves with their programmes. From the fiery shade of the leading lady’s hair to the seductiveness with which she slithers across the bed sheets in her satin slip, you fear she’ll singe every prop she touches. The sweltering heat of the Deep South setting is almost a character in itself, demonstrated with merely some oppressive lighting, a sluggish ceiling fan and the constant simmer of repressed desires and concealed truths. Among these truths is the reason why alcoholic Brick refuses to sleep with his passionate young wife.

Sadly, Parker’s Brick occasionally comes across as a little too chipper to assert the silent gravitas his character should boast in order to counter-balance the spectacle of Maggie’s mating dance, but he comes into his own in the second and most powerful of the play’s three acts, which revolves around Brick’s confrontation with his dying father. This scene showcases the play’s two most affecting performances, as father and son circle their own disgust, denial, and oft-referenced “mendacity” before reaching the two painful confessions on which the play hinges. The truth will out, and in this play, the truth doesn’t simply hurt – it burns.

Rachel Groocock

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