Theatre Review: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF **Plus my pics with the cast!**

The Broadway hit ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ has finally touched down in London but you probably know that already, right? The buzz about the Tennessee Williams play has been steadily mounting and it seems like everyone’s talking about it!

Directed by the legendary Debbie Allen this is one of those rare plays that London hasn’t really seen before with a stellar cast not only comprised entirely of Black actors but featuring four of Black Hollywood’s finest A Listers.

I had the pleasure of seeing ‘Cat’ from the centre of the front row last week during their previews and was blown away by the sheer talent on the stage. Phylicia Rashad is transformed as Big Mama, Sanaa is captivating as Maggie ‘The Cat’ and James Earl Jones is perfect as cantankerous Big Daddy. Not forgetting our very own Adrian Lester who simmers as Big Daddy’s eldest and favourite son, Brick.


The story is based around a well off Southern family and it’s patriarch, Big Daddy, who is celebrating his 65th birthday. He thinks he’s just got a clean bill of health from the doctor however he’s actually dying of cancer. Some of his family know, some don’t, but everyone is keeping secrets and peoples true intentions and own stories are slowly unravelled. The audience are taken through themes of death, betrayal, homosexuality and most prominently, mendacity, which incidentally is a key word throughout the performance.

It could perhaps seem even more impressive because this play features pure acting skill, no songs or big dance numbers to hide behind. It’s just the actors, their script and the audience. Despite being almost 3 hours long with 2 intervals, the show is enthralling. If you can concentrate on what’s being said instead of staring at Sanaa Lathan the whole time, wondering what the heck she’s doing in London a few feet away from you (I totally didn’t do that…!) then the play draws you in and the characters’ individual storylines weave into an intricate performance that you’ll find yourself relating to and empathising with.

What makes this play special is that it was originally written for an all white cast and the story is probably best remembered from the 1958 film with Elizabeth Taylor & Paul Newman. It has only recently been adapted for a black cast by Debbie Allen in 2008, when she brought it to Broadway with Terrence Howard as Brick and Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) as Maggie. Jones and Rashad are the only remaining cast members from thatrun. Although it would be natural to think that the play needed to be adapted heavily for it

to translate to a black family, the story is so universal and the themes so relevant to all people that it really is very similar to it’s original form.

If you’re not a lover of wordy, lengthy plays that you have to concentrate on then this isn’t one for you. However, if you’re up to being intellectually stimulated by some of Hollywood’s best actors and a few of our home-growntalents in a play that will tickle your senses and your emotions, I encourage you to get down to the Novello Theatre some time between now and April 2010! Book tickets here:

Oh, and if you’re one of those people that are wondering why on earth it’s called ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ like, “what’s the tin roof got to do with the cat?” Well, it’s all explained in the first 5 minutes of the play!

Also, on a side note – if you have time, go to the stage door after the performance and meet the cast. That’s what I did and they were all lovely. Debbie Allen was so nice and had a good 15 minute conversation with me about working in television and working up to directing. She’s such an inspiration. Check out the pics…

Cheeky Chappie Richard Blackwood

Charming Adrian Lester

A glowing Phylicia Rashad

Truly lovely Debbie Allen

And the icing on the cake... Sanaa Lathan!!


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