Cat On a Hot Tin Roof review

Theatre, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
 (© Johan Persson)
1/8
© Johan Persson Jack O'Connell (Brick) and Sienna Miller (Maggie)
 (© Johan Persson)
2/8
© Johan Persson Jack O'Connell (Brick)
 (© Johan Persson)
3/8
© Johan Persson Jack O'Connell (Brick)
 (© Johan Persson)
4/8
© Johan Persson Jack O'Connell (Brick)
 (© Johan Persson)
5/8
© Johan Persson Jack O'Connell (Brick) and Sienna Miller (Maggie)
 (© Johan Persson)
6/8
© Johan Persson Jack O'Connell (Brick) and Sienna Miller (Maggie)
 (© Johan Persson)
7/8
© Johan Persson Lisa Palfrey (Big Mama) and Michael J Shannon (Reverend)
 (© Johan Persson)
8/8
© Johan Persson Michael J Shannon (Reverend) and Richard Hansel (Doctor)

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Sienna Miller, Jack O'Connell and Colm Meaney star in this evocative but muddled take on the Tennessee Williams classic

Though it begins and ends with an extremely clear view of actor Jack O’Connell’s penis, this take on Tennessee Williams’s classic play from Aussie star director Benedict Andrews is a less edgy affair than one might hope.

Andrews’s UK reputation is built on a pair of plays he directed for the Young Vic: his phenomenal 2012 take on Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’, and his solid 2014 stab at Williams’s ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ is also a Young Vic production, though it’s gone straight to the West End rather than calling in at the mother ship first.

One reason for that, I’m sure, is that O’Connell’s co-star is the properly famous Sienna Miller, who plays Maggie, the loquacious, frustrated wife to his booze-sodden Brick, damaged scion to a wealthy, dysfunctional Southern family.

An actor whose fame has always somewhat overshadowed her abilities, a lot is asked of Miller during the long first scene, a two-hander between Maggie and Brick in which virtually all the lines are hers. There is a blowsy warmth and bigness of spirit to Miller’s Maggie: her care – not to mention desire – for Brick is obvious, and her long, gossipy speeches are animated with a winsome charisma. Whether or not this entirely tallies with the character is debatable: it’s hard to really square this charming Maggie with the woman who slept with Brick’s best friend Skipper out of jealousy at their closeness – there’s a lack of complexity. (Having raised the spectre of O’Connell’s todger I should probably also mention that Miller takes off all her clothes too – if you’re planning on taking a GCSE class you can’t say you weren’t warned).

Opposite her, young actor O’Connell’s busy screen career hasn’t a lot of time for stage work, and it kind of shows. The booze-sodden, guilt-stricken Brick is a tricky part because he has the most stage time but relatively few lines. O’Connell doesn’t really have the oomph to make sitting around being silently anguished look as compelling as it might.

Andrews’s prior Young Vic productions had a clarity of vision that felt grounded in the sets, as much as anything. Here everything happens in a sort of sleek black space that looks like a funeral parlour, surrounded by dull gold walls – I wonder if Magda Willi’s design is supposed to suggest that life is a sort of grandiose tomb for Brick and his dysfunctional family. There are some beautiful moments, especially towards the end: a sort of quiet, unsettling chaos as the family starts to tear itself apart under the apocalyptic fireworks of patriarch Big Daddy’s birthday celebrations (stunningly lit by Jon Clark, with a fidgety jazz score by Gareth Fry).

The longer second half is much stronger. The production kicks into gear, and Miller and O’Connell are backed up by some much more accomplished actors: Hayley Squires is scene-stealingly unrecognisable from her turn in ‘I, Daniel Blake’ as Brick’s awful sister-in-law Mae. And Colm Meaney’s Big Daddy is fierce and complicated, his rich man’s unpleasantness tempered by a genuine love of poor Brick – their scene together is O’Connell’s strongest.

Andrews is a gutsy choice for a West End show, and the results are more interesting than if it was just some journeyman Brit director, but it doesn’t seem like his natural environment. Certainly there’s none of the brilliant irreverence that surged through his ‘Three Sisters’ – the nudity feels a bit portentous, if I’m honest – and Miller and O’Connell are, to be frank, limited leads. Nice ideas and some moments of magic but it all adds up to an interesting mediocrity.

Details

Users say (14)

3 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

2.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:5
LiveReviews|14
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1 of 1 found helpful
tastemaker

The real essence of Tennessee  Williams is smooth poetic prose. All his work was written in a time of censorship, and he found he could work around this without compromising his art.

Years later we can forget compromise, we can be explicit, we we can add profanities, and nudity.This production has taken advantage of our new freedoms, but unfortunately has lost the flow, and the art.
The staging is a square space with a bed, dressing table & a shower. Brick uses the shower each time the play gets waterlogged (about once an hour).
Sienna Miller as Maggie (the cat) does her best but fails to capture the elegance & style of the character, while Jack O'Connell as Brick does capture something of the desperate quality of her partner. However they fail to spark off each other, while the rest of the cast support, but it all seems uncoordinated, & just wrong.
1 of 1 found helpful

Big budget, famous actors and nudity to cover up shabby direction that doesn't make sense or connect in any way to the story, and a clunky set that looks expensive and glamaorus but serves little purpose. The direction was infuriating (why would a woman dive into a massive cake on being told her husband is dying) and the nudity was unnecessary and cheap. Jack O'Connell, Hayley Squires and Lisa Palfrey were the only actors who were engaged with there characters. The throwing of glass and ice and cake was just unnecessary and having Maggie hide the whiskey bottles in the audience felt desperate and uncomfortable. Was very disappointed that a brilliant script and good actors had been let down by set and direction.

tastemaker

A slow, laborious play, that had none of the simmering heat or sexual tension that I was expecting. Sienna Miller plays Maggie, a woman in such angst with her life she decides (quite rightly) to let all her frustrations out at a time when her alcohol dependent partner Brick (Jack O'Connell) has broken his leg and is incapacitated. It is less a monologue she recites, more endless streams of dialogue, that had no real life to them and certainly didn't keep the attention of me or the audience sitting around me. In fact when the lights where about to go down on the second half, and the audience realized there was another 90 minutes to go, I am sure I heard a collective sigh. It was completely understandable, lackluster performances and a dodgy Southern American accent from Jack O'Connell, that criss-crossed the Atlantic more than I could possibly say. I understand theatre's want to attract new audiences, and the way to do that is by casting well known TV stars, but isn't it better to cast individuals who are up to the job, who really deliver lines that are engaging and thought provoking. Colm Meaney did just that, showing Big Daddy as the sarcastic, snarling, misogynistic bastard, who controlled his family, and thankfully the majority of the second act. 

An interesting play when done properly, but probably will keep my distance from Tennessee Williams for a while, it's hard going, and this production only compounded my efforts of giving him another go.


tastemaker

This production tries exceptionally hard to be modern and cutting edge, but in the end it falls short.

Sienna Miller wanders around the stage aimlessly reciting her lines, and occasionally clinging to a shower pole, whilst Jack O'Donnell grunts in an Irish-sounding American accent. What is normally an exceptionally funny and engrossing play, is in this instance a real let down. Very much style, and unnecessary nudity, over substance.

tastemaker

Overall I enjoyed this play, but had no prior knowledge of the plot, or what to expect. Considering it was from the young vic I was disappointed with the ticket prices - far too expensive. Big Daddy was by far the best character, but I did feel some of the dialogue dragged a bit. Overall good, but not as great as I was expecting


I am so angry with this production! Maggie is beautiful. And she is good. But she is no cat. Brick is thick with no burning vulnerable simmering core. The heat that usually appears as a character in TW plays must have migrated South not able to get on with the director. Direction? All over the place. Fire works that go on and off without rhyme or reason. Birthday cake and sugar glass that do what they do but don't know why. And the shower that takes a life of its own but like us humans doesn't have a clue why it is there. The play survives on the shoulders of the supporting cast especially Big Daddy who was the best thing as far as I am concerned. This is all very harsh I know but I am angry that the ugly and sad beauty of the play is reduced to laughter and nudity which was just too much to be polite about. And that's when I had free tickets...

tastemaker

The purists might have issues with celebrity casting but I feel it gives the director scope to freshen up the story based on the actors' relative strengths. The accents are authentic although at first the dialogue can seem impenetrable. Jack O'Connell as a taciturn ex-sportsman and Sienna Miller as his glamorous head turning wife carry the first half of the show. However, the second half is far less dramatic. The set design is minimalist and it's hard to visualise the grandeur of the cotton plantation house. It's fortunate that the themes of the play are so well entrenched that the story line shines through in an otherwise low intensity production.

tastemaker

The play starts from the naked-bodied Brick (Jack O’Connell) sitting in the shower and puking. It doesn’t stop him from carrying on drinking a liquor throughout the show though. And by the way he is semi or fully naked during the whole play so if you are a prude, this show isn’t for you. Maggie (Sienna Miller) is also not very shy when it comes to stripping off completely, I mean completely completely. But, to be honest, you stop noticing all this nakedness shortly after start. It takes however some time to adjust to a strong southern American accent.

The first act is almost fully played by Sienna.  Hats off for even remembering all her lines as she is literally talking for 1 hour non-stop - faultless performance.  Which doesn’t make Jack’s role less difficult as his character performs an ignorance to his wife, an absence to his life, a pain to his died friend and much more.  So, during the first act he plays an almost ‘silent presence’ or ‘present absence’ very impressively.  We were privileged to have decent seats in stalls so I could really appreciate how Jack plays.

The second part of the play is much more engaging, where other characters are interacting with Brick and Maggie as well. Bricks’s father Big Daddy (Colm Meaney),who is dying from cancer, is very authoritative and holding the whole family under his controlling power… apart from Brick. He has a soft spot for him and is trying to understand why Brick is drinking his life away. It really takes a lot for Brick to reveal his undecided relationship with his dead friend, Skipper.  Jack plays brilliantly that he is still tormented by his denial of Skipper’s love

The whole family is fighting for the Big Daddy inheritance revealing the whole spectrum of family drama. At the culmination of the show, Maggie strips from her slinky sparkly black dress and killer stilettos and prowls around the bedroom (like a cat) in a desperation to seduce completely drunk Brick. 



I was shocked from the get go! Weirdly it's set in modern times but with the same Southern accents which seems a bit out of place as the story hasn't changed all that much but the themes are still so relevant to now - like homophobia, class, greed, vanity, addiction, vice... not easy to explain, just go see it.

tastemaker

The Young Vic production brings this Mississippian, Southern inspired story 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof' to the West End successfully with such impressive acting.

This wretched family with their wrecked lives show the audience that life is filled with unexpected events.

It's simple, elegant, chic, and mysteriously dark throughout the show.

The darkness intertwines more and more towards the ending. You get that sense of unease and the sense of reality.

Personally I think that it didn't need any sort of nudity within the story, but then again you get that whole feeling of what it's like to be living in hot, urban areas like Mississippi.

It's well transmitted to the audience with such fire and drive. The cast pull together the pieces to bond and make their family one, but what they don't know is that they carry each part by a string. In someway we see it vanishing slowly, bit by bit.

It gradually unveils how disastrous this family truly are.

Different styles of lives, but each worse than the other.

I have to admit that I really wanted to see this show because of Sienna Miller.

I do love her work as a model and an actress, so I didn't know what to expect to see on a West End stage.

I'm glad that the show was great and that it was a fantastic idea to see it.

Miller portrays her character (Maggie) outstandingly well. I have to appreciate and applause someone who can stand and just bicker on and on for about an hour or so.

Her lines were excruciatingly intense and very long. It was constantly listening to Miller's speech that made this show a memorable success in my eyes.

It can get a little tedious, but she carries her character which such dignity and respect.

Her accent is pretty good I must say.

The second half of the show is much longer, so do brace yourselves. Your in for a long treat. A treat of about an hour and forty five minutes.

It definitely gets better and better.

Jack O'Connell as Brick is good. Nothing grand to say about his posture on stage.

He was rather strong in a way and just good I suppose.

The cast overall were a talented bunch who delivered a magnificent experience.

The design of the stage almost gives you this optical illusion. The golden plated background is almost invisible. When the lights go on, it appears and gives a glamorous touch to the rest of the props on stage.

All in all it has its low points, but it also has its good points.

See it for yourself.

#TOTastemaker

Love MD.

Tastemaker

Im no prude, but showing a  naked mans penis as the opening scene was entirely unecessary. I wasn't too sure what to expect from the play and I heard the reviews were poor. Unfortunately, I agree. The play is a classic, but the direction did not do it justice and the big names, couldn't bring the show to life. It was a real disappointment and the nakednesss was completely unnecessary, I'm sure lots of men would've loved to see Sienna naked, but this did not add to the story line at all.

The accents were very difficult to follow and the acoustics were poor.


I would not recommend anyone to see this, unless you get free tickets.


I've only given this production 1 star because everyone involved should have known better. I saw one of the first previews and the direction was shoddy - having the children running on and then running straight back off again the same way they came in was a bit like watching a bad school production. More importantly I blame Benedict Andrews for boring the pants off me for over 2 hours. I see a lot of theatre and very rarely leave early - I have only done it twice this year, once was Common and this was the other one. Those of us who love Tennessee Williams' work know that Cat On a Hot Tin Roof is one of his most difficult plays to stage. It is quite static and a successful production very much depends on sustaining the audiences' interest through long periods of dense dialogue. This all revolves around the characters of Maggie, Brick and Big Daddy. Both Maggie and Big Daddy were miscast - for different reasons. Sienna Miller just wasn't up to it, her accent was awful and it felt a bit like watching someone act by numbers. She certainly never inhabited the character of Maggie that's for sure. I saw Angels in America the day before and I'm pretty damn sure Andrew Garfield could have played Maggie 100% better than Sienna Miller. Colm Meaney just isn't the right person to play Big Daddy - he doesn't have the physical presence - although he tied his best. Poor Jack O'Connell looked like he just wanted to get out of there - and not in a good way. I'm sure his performance could have been great, with better support from the other lead characters and the director. Lots of people will go and see this production - despite the mixed reviews, because of the star names and that's a great shame because it will put them off going to see another Tennessee Williams play in the future and they will miss the magic of his theatre.    


Before I saw this, I wouldn't have thought it possible to turn such a brilliant play into a dull production. It is. Sienna Miller works hard in the first act, but she doesn't crackle and is hindered by Jack O'Connell who gives her nothing. Brick is written as a taciturn alcoholic, but in this production he is bereft of character. Colm Meaney brings some much-needed warm blood to the stage. The other actors give it as much energy as they can, but are hamstrung by heavy-handed direction; I wanted the director to let them have more space and freedom to trust the text. The nudity was boring and pointless - it revealed nothing about the characters and didn't move the story forward. The 2009 production with James Earl Jones remains my standard: sizzling, dynamic and wrenching. That's what this production should have been, but the director went with star power with the lead and shock-value with the nudity, resulting in a production with no danger, no risk and no heart. 

0 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Went to see this play and was impressed. If you don't know the play at all the plots sounds quite tedious, but it is surprisingly manageable considering that Maggie speaks for most of the first act. The themes are surprisingly modern. The setting is well done and I love how as you discover how messy their lives are the set gets messier and messier. 



I was in the nosebleeds and did not feel like i  missed anything. I usually need glasses but did not need them. I got the binoculars before the show and did not know about both main actors getting completely nude, so I must have looked a massive pervert examining the actors in their undressed state.