Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is set in a Mississippi plantation house at the time of ailing Big Daddy's birthday party, an event which sets the scene for family recriminations and revelations. His son Brick, a former college sports star, is more upset about the death of his friend Skipper than the disintegration of his marriage to a sexually frustrated wife Maggie.
Directed by Debbie Allen, Earl Jones and Rashad are joined by Briton Adrian Lester as Brick and American Sanaa Lathan as Maggie, the parts played in the 1958 screen version by Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor and in last year’s Broadway season by Terence Howard and Anika Noni Rose.
Overnight reviews were almost universally warm. Despite high expectations in the wake of its rave reception on Broadway last year, London critics were quick to welcome this “fine production” to the West End. Among the performances, James Earl Jones' “massive bull of a Big Daddy” and Lester's “graceful, leonine Brick” were the stand-outs, though special mention should also go to Sanaa Lathan's “sensual, deeply felt performance” as Maggie. On the issue of race, many critics made mention of the colour-blind nature of Williams' narrative. In the words of the Independent's Paul Taylor: “What is remarkable ... is how swiftly you become so absorbed by the universal elements in the story that you almost completely forget about the counter-intuitive colour of the actors' skins.”
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof rnus until 10 April 2010. This Friday 4 December, the Broadway stars of the production – James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad and Sanaa Lathan – will be guest presenters at the launch party of our tenth annual Whatsonstage.com Awards at Café de Paris. See awards.whatsonstage.com for more information.