A major revival of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning classic play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London starring Sienna Miller and Jack O'Connell and directed by Benedict Andrews.
In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a powerful Southern family gathers at a birthday celebration for patriarch Big Daddy, who does not know that he is dying of cancer. In a scramble to secure their part of his estate, family members hide the truth about his diagnosis from him and Big Mama. Front and center as tensions mount are alcoholic former football hero Brick and his beautiful but sexually frustrated wife Maggie "the Cat"; as their troubled relationship comes to a stormy and steamy climax, a shockwave of secrets are finally revealed.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Original West End Production 1958
Opened 30 January 1958, Closed 24 May 1958 at the Comedy Theatre (now called Harold Pinter Theatre)
The cast featured Leo McKern as 'Big Daddy', Bee Duffell as 'Big Mama', Kim Stanley as 'Maggie', Paul Massie as 'Brick', Alan Tilvern as 'Gooper' and Daphne Anderson as 'Mae'. Directed by Peter Hall. Note: This production was presented under 'private theatre conditions' to avoid censorship of the play by the Lord Chamberlain.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - National Theatre London Revival 1988
Previewed 25 January 1988, Opened 3 February 1988, Closed 17 September 1988 (in repertory) at the NT Lyttelton Theatre
The cast featured Eric Porter a 'Big Daddy', Barbara Leigh-Hunt as 'Big Mamma', Lindsay Duncan as 'Maggie', Ian Charleson as 'Brick', Paul Jesson as 'Gooper' and Alison Steadman as 'Mea'. Directed by Howard Davies with designs by William Dudley, lighting by Mark Henderson and music by Ilona Sekacz.
There had been initial plans to stage this play at the NT's Lyttelton Theatre during 1977, with John Schlesinger directing and starring Diana Rigg, but unfortuantely it never came to fruition.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - 1st West End Revival 2001
Previewed 5 September 2001, Opened 18 September 2001, Closed 12 January 2002 at the Lyric Theatre in London
The long rumoured revival of Tennessee Williams's play starring Brendan Fraser finally makes it into London's West End.
In Big Daddys' house, nothing is as it seems. Big Daddy is dying of cancer, though he believes he is in good health. His son Gooper and his wife greedily await their inheritance. Meanwhile, his favourite son Brick, is a drunken ex-football star whose abusiveness is destroying his marriage to the sensuous Maggie. As Maggie fights to win back her husband, Big Daddy learns the truth about his illness and the shocking secret behind Bricks behaviour....
The cast features Brendan Fraser as 'Brick', Gemma Jones as 'Big Mama', Ned Beatty as 'Big Daddy', Frances O'Connor as 'Maggie', Clive Carter as 'Gooper' and Abigail McKern as 'Mae'. Directed by Anthony Page with designs by Maria Bjornson, lighting by Howard Harrison and music by Neil McArthur.
"The sight of two attractive people tearing each other to shrewds is always appealing, but I have to say that Brendan Fraser and Frances O'Connor test one's patience... Anthony Page's lacklustre production fails to galvanise the action or serve up the raw meatiness of the play as required. This should not be a night out for vegetarians. Instead, we have a patchwork version, pointlessly incorporating the hitherto unheard third act adjustments, that pays tribute to the play without releasing its magic or power. No serious director would allow Fraser to stare at the audience in the way he does here, like a wounded doe looking for sympathy. Most of the night, hobbling on a crutch with his left leg in plaster, he seems to be justifying only his own reputation as charming eye-candy. This makes it difficult for Frances O'Connor, who turns in a really tremendous perforamnce - agile, bright, funny, sexy and clever - though her departure in the second act leaves a gaping hole in the night" The Daily Mail
"A family - rich as Creosus and twice as mean - cringes under the whip of the plantation patriarch Big Daddy. To avoid him and his world of lies, his effete footballer son Brick (Fraser) climbs inside a whisky bottle for solace. Meanwhile Maggies, his wife, prowls the bedroom desperate for the sort of loving Brick can't give her. Fraser makes the part his own as he sluices his liver and hobbles about on a crutch looking tragic. But as Maggie, Frances O'Connor sprays the furniture with her sexual hunger - a sensational performance which introduces this actress as a major new talent" The Daily Express
"Three Hollywood stars have joined a British cast to create a smouldering piece of Southern magicin London's West End. Brendan Fraser takes on Frances O'Connor and Ned Beatty in the searing family drama Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Written by Tennessee Williams in 1955, the play shows how a wealthy plantation family is ripped apart by greed and lies... Desperate to extract some sort of attention from Brick, Frances O'Connor's Maggie pouts and squeezes her breasts. To no avail. For a redneck heterosexual, Brick is suspiciously unimpressed. Desperate for sex, Maggie pads restlessly around their steamy bedroom like an animal on heat. Her towering speeches drip frustration and bile. She curses the family leeches and sticks the knife into a list of social climbers. Yet Maggie stops short of rubbishing her alcoholic husband. Her world revolves around Brick, even if his revolves uselessly around the memory of his best friend. One fears for a performance of any sort from Fraser until he rumbles to life in a magnificent second act. Cornered by gnarled and grizzly Big Daddy, Fraser opens up like a can of worms. That plastic face crumples into bellows of rage, then hiccups of pain as his father pushes him towards revealing his 'disgusting' truth. You can see why this was Tennessee Williams's favourite play. Mendacity and self-deception are powerful themes in his best work and this is as pungent as it gets... Anthony Page's sizzling stage version reveals a dimension of rawness and cruelty that went missing under the film censor's eager snips, as well as a wonderfully rude sense of humour. Maggie has the best of it. She lays into Clive Carter's slimy Gooper and his ghastly wife Mae (superbly played by Abigail McKern) with deeply pleasing savagery. Moreover, she is a survivor. Gemma Jones provides sterling support as Big Mama. Her dress reveals too much cleavage, and her booming voice fails to disguise a lifetime playing second fiddle to a husband who despises her. But she is by no means the weakest link in this gothic power struggle. This is great family melodrama, with a classic selection of skeletons to boot." The Mail on Sunday
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London at the Lyric Theatre previewed from 5 September 2001, opened on 18 September 2001 and closed on 12 January 2002
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - 2nd West End Revival 2010
Previewed 21 November 2009, Opened 1 December 2009, Closed 10 April 2010 at the Novello Theatre in London
The 2008 Broadway revival cast members James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad reprise their roles of 'Big Daddy' and 'Big Mama' in this London staging. Joining them will be Adrian Lester as 'Brick', Sanaa Lathan as 'Maggie - the Cat', Peter de Jersey as 'Gooper' and Nina Sosanya as 'Mae'. Directed by Debbie Allen with sets by Morgan Large, costumes by Fay Fullerton, lighting by David Holmes, music by Andrew 'Tex' Allen and sound by Richard Brooker. This production comes to London's West End following a season at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway where the production enjoyed a four month season in 2008.
"With some nips and tucks to the script and shifting the time from the Fifties to the Eighties, Debbie Allen has shown that the universal themes of family conflict that Tennessee Williams explores make his words ring true in the mouths of actors, whatever their colour. James Earl Jones seems born to play the dying patriarch Big Daddy. His is a performance jangling with danger. Lester's less so, though he brings a sullen beauty to his alcoholic self-absorption - and gives a masterclass in how to play a drunk with a crutch." The Sunday Telegraph
"Debbie Allen's clever adaptation manages to transmute Williams's white Southern family reunion into a black one with ingeniously little strain... Sanaa Lathan, as Maggie, is certainly fabulously sexy, but she fails to vary her tone... Phylicia Rashad, as Big Mama, is loud and funny, but in a crude, sometimes even cartoonish style... The two male leads, on the other hand, are both excellent. James Earl Jones, straight from the Broadway production, is the best thing in it, with a natural charisma and power that few actors can equal... Equally good is the British actor Adrian Lester, as Brick, in a beautifully understated performance. The appallingly bitchy Mae is also nicely realised by Nina Sosanya... Still, this remains a middling production that, for all the rather self-conscious on-stage steaminess, and a couple of fine performances, never really catches fire." The Sunday Times
"American director Debbie Allen's all-black, Anglo-American revival gets off to a sizzling start with some jazzy saxophone playing... It is extremely funny, and one of many unexpected reminders in this marvellous production of Williams's fabulous and frequently underestimated sense of humour. But married bliss and shared laughter this is not. Indeed, the slatted walls of the luxurious bedroom suggest a cage, gilded, but nevertheless imprisoning, and, far from being amused by her, Brick (a compelling, icy, glassy-eyed Adrian Lester) pulls a pillow over his head to shut out her chatter... Sanaa Lathan is equally superb, playing Maggie as part frustrated alley-cat, part caged tiger, rubbing herself up against the wall of Brick's brutal indifference and rejection. She's still wildly attracted to her husband... The temperature rises even higher with the appearance of James Earl Jones's gigantic patriarch Big Daddy, who snarls and roars like a starving lion, swiping with savage cruelty at his loyal wife, scorchingly well played by Phylicia Rashad... A Cat with heart, soul and real fangs." The Mail on Sunday
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London at the Novello Theatre previewed from 21 November 2009, opened on 1 December 2009 and closed on 10 April 2010.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - 3rd West End Revival 2017
Previewed 13 July 2017, Opened 24 July 2017, Closed 7 October 2017 at the Apollo Theatre
A major revival of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning classic play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London starring Sienna Miller and Jack O'Connell and directed by Benedict Andrews.
The cast features Sienna Miller as 'Maggie', Jack O'Connell as 'Brick' and Colm Meaney as 'Big Daddy' with Lisa Palfrey as 'Big Mama', Hayley Squires as 'Mae', Brian Gleeson as 'Gooper', Richard Hansell as 'the Doctor' and Michael J. Shannon as 'the Reverend'. Directed by Benedict Andrews with sets by Magda Willi, costumes by Alice Babidge, lighting by Jon Clark, music by Jed Kurzel and sound by Gareth Fry.
PLEASE NOTE: This production contains nudity - the age recommendation is 15 and above.
When this production here at the Apollo Theatre in July 2017, Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard praised the "compelling performance of high-wattage star allure from Sienna Miller... [who] turns in a faultless performance... The production has been updated, to no discernible benefit, and now looks awkwardly stuck in an odd no-time zone." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times highlighted how Sienna Miller "gets right to the heart of Maggie, the titular cat... especially in the first act, Miller puts a keenly sardonic topspin on many of her lines and successfully keeps the whole business going at a decent pace." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph explained: "I came ready and willing to write this off as mere summer filler. But it's well acted, stylishly presented and very nicely, erm, tackled: preferred by nine out of 10 Cats, you might say." Michael Billington in the Guardian noted that "the best feature of the production is that it combines emotional intensity with a leavening humour... Of the three main performers, though, the only real revelation comes from Jack O'Connell's Brick. He has the obsessiveness of the true alcoholic, his attention fixed on the four whiskey bottles prominently placed downstage." Neil Norman in the Daily Express wrote that "the first half is a virtual monologue by Maggie the Cat and Sienna Miller wears the burden lightly. Her accent is near perfect and once she is past posing and posturing, she engages fully with the character... Jack O'Connell is less impressive as ex-sports star Brick... Colm Meaney is big on bluster as Big Daddy and Lisa Palfrey is wonderful as the inappropriately girlish Big Mama." Ann Treneman in the Times said that "Sienna Miller does not steal the scene so much as own it from the moment she arrives, a cat burglar who struts around in her pantyhose, hair flying... owning the stage until the very end." Paul Taylor in the i Newspaper commented how "Benedict Andrews offers a brilliant, lacerating account of the play that jolts you out of any sense of cosy familiarity... The last act was rewritten several times. The version used here predates the script used for the Broadway premiere and goes back to a darker and less redemptive view of the play. It's unforgettable." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail thought that "Benedict Andrews's production, set in the modern day rather than in Williams's 1950s, is overdone. There is much shouting and smashing of furniture, a vast cake is destroyed and the stage is reduced to a terrible mess. This once again proves my pet theory that a messy stage is evidence of a struggling director."
Sienna Miller's West End credits include Trevor Nunn's 2011 revival of Terrace Rattigan's play Flare Path with Sheridan Smith at the Haymarket Theatre and David Lan's 2005 revival of Shakespeare's As You Like It with Helen McCrory at the Wyndham's Theatre. Benedict Andrews' London theatre credits include co-adapting with Andrew Upton, Jean Genet's The Maids (Trafalgar Studios 2016). Colm Meaney's London credits include the role 'Phil Hogan' in Howard Davies' revival of Eugene O'Neill's play A Moon for the Misbegotten with Kevin Spacey and Eve Best at the Old Vic Theatre in 2006 and the role of 'Captain Jack Boyle' in John Crowley's revival of Sean O'Casey's play Juno and the Paycock at the Donmar Warehouse in 1999.
"Benedict Andrews's new production is a bold reimagining, but somewhat distracting, too. Later on, there are mobile phones, meaning it is never quite clear when it is set... The main attraction, though, is Sienna Miller as Maggie, the sexually frustrated, childless wife of the alcoholic Brick... Miller is completely believable as Maggie, verbose and hugely vivacious, damaged but determined — always a winning combination... Jack O'Connell is something of a revelation as Brick, initially such a sozzled nonentity... later, in his blistering confrontation with Big Daddy, he's a profoundly sympathetic figure. His accent is less assured than Miller's but it remains a fine, powerful performance. Lisa Palfrey is big-hearted and vulgar and endearingly deluded as Big Mama, and Colm Meaney superb as the swaggering, glowering, domineering paterfamilias, a Mississippi alpha in the Mississippi Delta... This is the bleakest, most Lear-like of visions, fully rendered in this innovative and powerfully acted production." The Sunday Times
"Jack O'Connell's is not just the cleanest performance in the West End but one of the finest; mining deep layers of pain and self-disgust as his character, Brick, mourns the death of his college buddy Skipper... Despite vocal weakness, Sienna Miller captures both Maggie's thwarted passion and sardonic humour. Colm Meaney is excellent as Big Daddy, and Lisa Palfrey and Hayley Squires hilarious as Brick's brassy mother, Big Mama, and aggressively fertile sister-in-law, Mae. Both actors and author are, however, let down by Andrews's self-indulgent direction... Furthermore Andrews squanders all the credit he gains from using the original text by his crassly insensitive ending. Whereas Williams leaves Maggie and Brick's future relationship deliberately equivocal, Andrews turns them into an X-rated Babes In The Wood." The Sunday Express
"Traditionalists may be shocked. But it makes good dramatic sense that Sienna Miller and her fast-rising co-star Jack O'Connell strip off. Tennessee Williams' 1955 classic is set in the grand homestead of a Mississippi family. It's the birthday of plantation owner Big Daddy, but Miller's southern belle Maggie and O'Connell's former American football star Brick are in no mood to celebrate. The couple are locked in a childless marriage. She is sexually neglected and desperate for a baby, he is haunted by the loss of a friendship that was gay in all but name. In Benedict Andrews' stylish, bold production, both actors do a fine job capturing the particular brand of unhappiness in which their alter egos are trapped. Miller takes a while to warm to the southern drawl. But she superbly captures the paradox of being both sexy and sexually frustrated. And when needed she uses southern politeness against her bitchy sister-in-law like a whip. Andrews updates the play to the present and you have to suspend too much disbelief to credit that today - even in Mississippi - being gay ruins lives in the way it did in Williams' day. But Miller and O'Connell still get to a raw and naked truth." The Metro
Yes, there is nakedness but there's more to this play. The prominent member in this claustrophobic performance is Jack O'Connell. His accent as fading drunk sport hero Brick may have arrived in the Missippi Delta via Bolton, but his brooding presence is powerful. This tale of a family torn apart during the death throes of patriarch Big Daddy - superbly played by Colm Meaney - is as intense as water torture... Miller steals the show in lace dresses - and at times little else... But when her powers of seduction wither the family are confronted with a devastating cascade of truths leading to a jaw-dropping finale. Even the cat on that hot tin roof will feel its private parts singed." The Sunday Mirror
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 13 July 2017, opened on 24 July 2017 and closed on 7 October 2017.