CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
Fourblokes Theatre Company returned after a three year hiatus during the pandemic to open the 2022 autumn season at the Rose Theatre in Chesterfield with Tennessee Williams’ classic Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Maggie “the Cat” still burns hot for her ex-football star husband, but Brick only has eyes for the bottom of a whiskey bottle. When Big Daddy returns home from a cancer clinic thinking he’s got a clean bill of health, his family swarms for a slice of the inheritance pie. In Tennessee Williams’ explosive Pulitzer Prize winner, the emotional shockwaves intensify as truths are finally told. Perhaps the crowning achievement of one of America’s greatest playwrights.
Cast and Creative Team
Maggie ‘The Cat’ | Anna Bond
Brick | Josh Sly
Big Daddy | David Ian Jones
Big Mama | Deborah McPherson
Mae | Louise Simcox
Gooper | Simon Lewington
Reverend Tooker | Drew Sinclair
Doctor Baugh | Adam Guest
Dixie | Millie Simcox
Trixie | Jessica Simcox
Buster | Dougie Moses
Director | Barry Taylor
Designer | Jon Crofts
Set Construction | Heath Parkin
Lighting Designer | Jamie Vella
Sound Designer | Barry Taylor
Promotion Filming / Photography | Ben Sherwin
Graphic Design | Marie Stone
Prop Dressing / Scenic Artist | Clementine Morley
Direction Assistant | Anna Bond
Production Manager | Phil Simcox
Fourblokes ASM & Rehearsal Manager | Maureen Tierney
Artistic Director of the Rose | Jonathan Francis
Rehearsal Sound & Child Actor Liaison | Gemma Bestwick
Programme & Meetings Secretary | Marie Stone
Finance Manager | Trudy Taylor
Social Media Manager | Ben Sherwin
Child Actor Chaperone Manager | Louise Simcox
Child Actor Chaperones | Gemma Bestwick & Clementine Morley
Fourblokes Chair | Mik Horvath
"To do justice to this play you need top class actors and they were all just that..."
Expecting to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams as set in the 1950s, was a gross misconception on my part. Director Barry Taylor wanted to make the play a more meaningful experience for a contemporary audience and to set the play in the early 2000s, specifically in 2002. Along with Designer Jon Crofts they set about to bring this vision to fruition and I can say without any hesitation that they certainly achieved this in every aspect.
The play is set in a bed-sitting room in the wealthy Mississippi Plantation estate of Big Daddy Pollitt in 2002 on the evening of his 65th. birthday. The family have gathered to celebrate this and his return from a Clinic where he has been given a clean bill of health. All the family members, except Big Daddy and his wife Big Mama, are aware of the true diagnosis in that he is dying from Cancer and they lie to save them from this news as it is his birthday. The play examines the relationships among members of his family but focuses mainly on his son Brick and his wife Maggie, known as the ‘cat’, and it soon becomes clear that the whole family has long constructed a web of deceit for itself. It covers a whole gamut of emotions and motives including greed, mendacity, sexual desire, repression and death.
The play opens when Brick enters the bedroom he shares with Maggie after taking a shower.. He is suffering from a broken ankle and is incessantly in need of alcohol. Maggie, whilst very subtlety undressing behind a sofa, confronts Brick with a prolonged diatribe of concerns, insinuations and her frustrations and desires. The role of Maggie was played absolutely brilliantly by Anna Bond. It is an incredibly demanding role and Anna rose to the challenge superbly portraying the many and varied emotions with such perception and insight bringing the words alive with added gestures and facial expressions and her sensual, sexy seduction prowess, was just sublime – a truly outstanding performance. Josh Sly was so convincing as her somewhat disengaged husband Brick. He hobbled around the bedroom on his crutch constantly ‘filling his glass’ and he totally embodied his indifference to his wife in such a matter-of-fact way, but when he was really riled, he terrifically lashed out at Maggie using his crutch with such venomous intent. In Act 2 he was far more verbose and the father/son scene with Big Daddy was most impressively and movingly delivered – a superb performance from Josh. David Ian Jones was top-notch and again so convincing as larger than life Big Daddy. He has such magnificent stage presence portraying the brash arrogance, the vulgar and aggressive nature of the character with such consummate ease. His scene with Brick, as already mentioned, really pulled at the heartstrings. Louise Simcox portrayed the condescending, supercillious and conniving nature of Mae to perfection and her ruthless husband Gooper, the other son of Big Daddy, was excellently played by Simon Lewington. Deborah McPherson gave a wonderfully powerful performance as Big Mama and good support came from Drew Sinclair as Reverend Tooker and Adam Guest as Doctor Baugh. Of course, I mustn’t forget to mention Mae and Gooper’s children delightfully played by Millie Simcox, Libby Bestwick, Dougie Moses and Jessica Simcox who intermittently disturbed proceedings with their devilish and mischievous antics.
The lovely set, costumes, lighting, incidental country music from the era and sound effects all added to the whole ambience but it was the formidable and magnificent cast that was the icing on the cake. To do justice to this play you need top class actors and they were all just that, but in particular, I must say the roles of Maggie, Brick and Big Daddy were exceptionally and outstandingly portrayed. Congratulations must go to Director Barry Taylor for his insightful interpretation of this classic play and for gathering together this truly remarkable cast. Also, praise indeed must go to everyone else involved in what was such thought-provoking, awe-inspiring, moving and powerful dramatic production.