By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Richard Baron
Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Date: Wednesday 8th November 2006
I didn’t remember much of the previous production I saw, so this was a very interesting one to see. The bulk of the first act is down to Maggie, the cat of the title, all jumpy because her husband hasn’t given her a child yet, and she sees her comfortable life slipping away if Big Daddy leaves his estate to the well-offspringed brother-in-law. For a women who has clawed her way up from close to the gutter, it’s not an appealing prospect. Her husband, Brick, doesn’t have a lot to say for himself in this act, but he makes up for it later on. All the performances were good. I didn’t notice much slippage in the accent department, although I’m no expert, and the reading of the play worked well for me. I could see who the characters were loud and clear, and the production was balanced enough not to take sides – just as well, since few of the characters get anywhere near likeable. It says a great deal for Tennessee Williams’ skill as a playwright that it can be so fascinating to sit and watch so many unpleasant people for nearly three hours.
The revelations over the next two acts were unsurprising, but the presentation made them very watchable. I was especially moved by Big Daddy’s stories of his time abroad, and the abject poverty he witnessed. Brick’s despair and grief were obvious, and I liked the nice tussle between him and Maggie over the pillow. He kept putting it on the couch where he’d been sleeping since his friend died, and she kept returning it to the bed, where she wanted him to be. God knows what any child born into that family would have to put up with (now there’s and idea for a sequel). It’s a shame this wasn’t better attended, but fortunately there were lots of younger people there who may have got an insight into more powerful drama than we usually get on stage, and even on TV.
© 2006 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me