Thursday, December 20, 2012

A New 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' Revival on Broadway, But the Question Is 'Why?'

Scarlett Johansson

In New York for a holiday visit, my wife and I saw the new "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof" last night on Broadway with Scarlett Johansson as Maggie. It was the second night of previews (opening is early January).

The 1955 play, said to have been Tennessee Williams' personal favorite, has always been a problem, in that it really has never been clear -- not to audiences, not to a succession of directors starting with Elia Kazan, not even to  to Mr. Williams himself -- exactly what it's about. Repressed homosexuality? Mendacity? A spurned wife? Familial greed? The last gasp of Mississippi Delta Planter Culture? All of the above, take your pick?

The latest revival, alas, has no new answers, though I do like that it uses the full play as written by Williams.  It's long (about three hours) in three acts. But as usual, Act One doesn't speak coherently to Act Two, and Act Three thunders out in a King Lear tempest.

I know previews are supposed to be a time when kinks in a production are worked out, but hey, the tickets for the good seats run into the $200 range (plus fees when you book online). That's a lot for a preview! We'll see what the play looks like when it opens in a month (though I don't have much faith in today's Broadway critics), but my hunch is that this production is pretty well set in its current form right now.

Here's a preview review, in triplets:

Scarlett Johansson good. Big Daddy too. Brick's a cipher. Gooper simply baffling. Direction is chaotic. No-neck monsters: Way too cute. Skipper's ghost creepy. Actors seem lost. Play needs work. Probably not fixable.

Sad to say!


No comments: