I agree with Stuart. The set and direction was poor. When an actor has to generate a laugh or a response through an odd quirky action you know the text has not been embodied and the superfluous aimed at instead of the truth. Painful. - Mark
25 Mar 10
Any play lasting three hours has to be good at the Novello where a peculiar reverse rake makes the stalls seats very uncomfortable. Fortunately Debbie Allen's production of Cat On a Hot Tin Roof mostly delivers. The all black casting has gained most of the attention but the play is so strong that it is barely noticeable, except that James Earl Jones' fearsome Big Daddy makes perfect sense as someone who left school at ten and lifted himself up from plantation worker to owner. Sanaa Lathan is a convincingly manipulative Maggie and Phylicia Rashad is especially impressive in the final act. I didn't really get Adrian Lester's robotic Brick, there was no sense of the desperation of the alcoholic or any suggestion of his hidden sexuality. In contrast Peter de Jersey made the absolute most of his brief moment to shine as Gooper, clearly inheriting some of Big Daddy's worst chacteristics (if nothing else). It's good to be reminded that Americans can do drama as well as musicals and it's easy to see why the Tony voters were so impressed. - David Baxter
13 Jan 10
Good grief I agree with Mr James below for the first time ever I think. Absolute knock out, especially Adrian Lester who's the best Brick I've seen and James Earl Jones, the best big daddy. Nina Sosanya was sensational and in a less image conscious world would have been an exceptional Maggie. - Joesmith
10 Jan 10
A wonderful and breath taking evening. An audience that even starts taking part. Mesmerising. - Pit, Germany
15 Dec 09
The play starts with the longest nag in stage history, so 30 minutes in you’re just willing Maggie off the stage! This slows down the process of getting into the play, but things pick up when Brick begins to bite back and other characters arrive. Much of the second act is a two-hander between Big Daddy and his youngest son Brick, and this is where this production soars because both James Earl Jones (who doesn’t even seem to be acting) and Adrian Lester are masterly and the chemistry between them becomes electrifying. So much has been made of the four leads that two other fine performances have been rather overlooked – Peter de Jersey’s less favoured son and his pushy wife brilliantly played by Nina Sosanya. And what about the all-black casting? -well, with a few changes in the dialogue and a move forward 20 years or so, it's irrelevant – great drama is great drama and good performances are good performances. - Gareth James
11 Dec 09
Oh I enjoyed this so much. I'm from New Orleans originally and found it very true to home -especially how it looked! Awesome permeable set, and great 80's costumes too. James Earl Jones was so natural, and Adrian Lester certainly didn't hold back. Wasn't too keen on Sanaa to begin with, but soon warmed to her. Awesome night out, highly recommended. - Jane
08 Dec 09
I was very disappointed with this show. Adrian Lester seemed very uneasy in the role of Brick. I usually like everything he does but something was not working here. At times it was more like Neil Simon than Tennessee Williams. An all black cast, and updating the play to the 80s hasn't helped either. The set was awful too. It was like something out of a Feydeau farce rather than the Deep South.And Adrian corpsing...he did that last week too. Could have been great but somewhere between the Mississippi delta and NYC this production got out of control. It needs a firm directorial hand and possibly recasting here and there. - Stuart
06 Dec 09
i agree with the other WOS reader review...i was hugely dissapointed. For one thing, it was far too long - the first act itself could have done with soe judicial editing...people around me in the audience were coughing and wriggling uncomfortably in their seats, feeling as underwhelmed as i did. Finall James Earl Jones hits the stage and the whole thing gets a surge of much needed energy...he was by far the highlight of the show. Adrian Lester for me was boring...so slow and mono-syllabic - if it was a character choice then i'm afraid it was the wrong choice. I understand Brick is meant to be disillusioned and heartbroken - but i had no sympathy for him at all - which is cruical for this play to work.
a shame, particularly as the tickets were £40. - casey monday
06 Dec 09
Before I write I have to say I wanted this to be a big hit, found the casting brave and exciting and had word it was excellent in New York.
Now why is no one being honest about it me thinks...?
I was there last night and from the dress circle sorry but this is no great production.
In brief: Sanaa and Adrian are good (but Adrian looked very ill at ease in the part and you never thought he was James Earl son!) Phylicia well what was that all about; make and wig all over the top and no pain in her perfomance, all old lady acting.
James swolled far too many words and could not always be heard.
There was no heat or tension and no shock in the revelations.
The set was good but the back cloth awful and I will not start on the crude lighting.
Hitting the bed centre stage with a change of lighting to depict a key speech or monologue.
In truth I think poor direction and a cast not working together are to blame.
- first night
02 Dec 09
Went to see this on the opening night - 21 Nov. A great evening - the audience were almost Shakespearean in their participation, whooping up James Earl Jones when he appeared, gasping at some of the unkind lines said by one character to another. I'm really concerned if Adrian Lester is going to get through the run without ACTUALLY breaking a limb, given the amount of falling and jumping he does on one leg. He was great, even if now and then it was more Brummie Delta than Mississippi Delta - and he did corpse once. Not that anyone minded.
And Derek Griffiths! The man's a legend! - Simon Martin
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