Cat On a Hot Tin Roof @ The Studio, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
The pure poetry of Tennessee William's classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is brought to life in this strong production by Leitheatre
After its recent revival at the Young Vic last year starring Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has been captivating audiences across the UK. Now local Edinburgh company Leitheatre have also followed suit, taking on Tennessee Williams' legendary play (and the playwright's personal favourite).
Set in 1955 on a Mississippi plantation owned by wealthy cotton tycoon Big Daddy Pollitt, the play examines the relationships between the members of Big Daddy’s family, and explores themes of misogyny, sexual repression, mendacity and greed. The entire play takes place over the course of Big Daddy’s 65th birthday, and throughout the evening, the family must separately face the issues which they have bottled up inside. Act One focuses on son Brick and his wife Maggie's strained marriage, while Act Two deals with the family negotiating Big Daddy’s will and estate.
Under the direction of Mike Patton, the cast do a great job at tackling the complex characters in this story. Nicole Nadler and Kevin Rowe are great in the roles of Maggie "the cat" and the alcoholic Brick; a couple in crisis. Nadler captures Maggie’s desperation and relentless pleas for affection while still delivering her dry witty remarks. She is instantly likeable and engaging to watch. Rowe takes a little longer to connect with, but embodies Brick’s indifference and suppressed anger and despair from the offset. In Act Two he somehow transforms into a pillar of humility and sense in contrast with his greed-driven and smug older brother Gooper (Pat Hymers).
The highlights of this production come in the scenes between Big Daddy (Hamish Hunter) and Brick. The unconditional love that Big Daddy has for his son is quite moving despite his indifference towards him. This is a truly revealing and thought-provoking piece – in our age of feminism it can be a bit difficult to watch, but there is pure poetry in Williams’ script.
Most of the actors do a great job at taking on the Southern accent of the play's setting and although there were a few line fluffs, this amateur company did a very professional job. The second act could have been cut by half an hour, but that being said, Leitheatre's production makes for an enjoyable evening out.