Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Tennessee Williams
The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company, Belgrade Theatre Company
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
(2005)

Production photograph

Well-produced and glossy, the Lyceum's three-hour production is nonetheless an ordeal to sit through. However, pinpointing exactly where the show goes wrong is difficult - the performers are competent and Richard Baron's direction is smooth, while design by Edward Lipscombe adds to the slick, glamorous realism of the piece.

Or perhaps this is part of the problem - with the exception of Gooper (Rory Murray) and Mae's (Candida Gubbins) money-grubbing assault on Big Mama (the sparky and refreshing Christine Absalom, whose arrival in the first act finally gets the piece moving) in act three, none of the arguments are particularly interesting. Even the central conflict between Maggie (Lesley Harcourt), Brick (Dugald Bruce-Lockhart), and the absent Skipper seems de-clawed, full of apathy and lacking in chemistry.

The standout performances of the show come from Absalom and Aaron Shirley (as Big Daddy), who blow through the room offering a couple breaths of fresh air after the oppressive monologuing of the first twenty minutes. They provide some much-needed friction in an otherwise slick play.

Where the play offers standout moments is when the dialogue takes over and characters manage to break free of their restrictions, honestly confronting one another with truth and frankness. The problem is that there's such a lack of grittiness in other areas of the play that the release offered by these explosions isn't evidenced by any real sort of pent-up tension.

There is, of course, the chance tha, in interpreting Williams' text, Baron has chosen to use the hypocrisy of the characters' lives to encourage the lack of emotional traction, thereby demonstrating the impact of mendacity and hypocrisy on seemingly charmed lives. If this is the case, it may make for an interesting approach, but fails to provide much in the way of entertainment.

Steve Orme reviewed this production at the Nottingham Playhouse

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Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody