You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium last night, as the curtains opened at Curve on the bold and fresh revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
It’s not a groundbreaking story with a complicated plot. It centres primarily around relationships, providing a snapshot into a day of one American family, and the complicated, dynamic relationships they navigate every day. Husbands and wives, siblings, mothers, and their sons.
Directed by Anthony Almeida, the show opens to the tumultuous, loveless, and passionless marriage of Maggie and Brick (Sienna Kelly, Oliver Johnstone) and closes on the lifelong bitter brawl between two brothers, Brick and Gooper (Sam Alexander). Somewhere in the middle, we pay a visit to another loveless marriage seeded in distaste and bitterness between
Big Mama and Big Daddy (Teresa Banham, Peter Forbes).
Sienna Kelly delivers a breathtaking performance as Maggie. While at the start you may write her off as arrogant and pretty obnoxious, by the end of the performance I could barely take my eyes off her – watching for every expression, every movement that gives you a deeper understanding of what is ultimately the story of a girl born into poverty and loves a man who cannot love her back.
Oliver Johnstone’s Brick is phenomenal. Barely taking his focus off of the whisky glass he fills up again, and again, he truly plays the part of an obsessive alcoholic with veracity. Like his counterpart, he draws you into his heartbreak at the loss of his career and his best friend.
The set was minimalist, with a sheer curtain used to convey both spaces and emotions, and the lighting was simple and yet effective.
Nothing else was needed to distract from the powerful script, and the gradual tension that bubbles gradually with every glass of liquor Brick pours himself – until he finally reaches that ‘click’.
The production suffered some sound mixing issues for the first few minutes (causing a member of the audience to ask if the cast could speak up a bit – sparking a chuckle from others!), but this was corrected by the second act.
All in all, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a hugely powerful, intense and sometimes challenging to watch, but definitely worth the trip.
Reviewed by Rosie Bambury