Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is one of Tennessee Williams's best-known works and now receives a London revival, directed by Anthony Page and starring Brendan Fraser and Frances O'Connor.
The reason so many people know of Williams' play is the film version, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, both in their physical prime. Still, as a play it has continued to impress and engage audiences because it combines most of Williams' best-known themes and settings. Set in the Deep South in a large but claustrophobic mansion that reeks of (new) money, it features a dysfunctional family, a beautiful but frustrated woman and a masculine but flawed man with more than a hint of repressed homosexuality.
The American stage having always been readier to deal with homosexuality, Williams was better placed to raise gay issue than his British contemporaries, and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is no exception. Brick's friendship with his high school buddy, references to which were toned down for the Hollywood film, was clearly, from the text, gay or at least subliminally so, something his wife, Maggie 'the Cat' is aware of.
Feistier than Blanche du Bois, the tragic central figure of A Streetcar Named Desire, Maggie is, like her, a sexually frustrated wife. Rather than drive her husband to suicide, as Blanche did, Maggie decides to fight to save her marriage, even though she has to take on the in-laws-from hell to do so.
Brick, generally played by someone who can radiate masculinity and sex appeal yet also convey a bruised sensitivity, will be essayed by Fraser ("Gods and Monsters," "Dudley Doright."). Previews at the Lyric Theatre commence Sept. 5, and the opening night is scheduled for Sept. 18.
by Paul Webb Theatrenow