Theater review: ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’

We only wish you could see the full scope of the towering, curtain-draped suite where this play takes place; but here, have a look at Scarlett Johansson undressed instead.

Much of the hype surrounding Tennessee William’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” now on Broadway at Richard Rodgers Theatre, is its top-name cast. For example, theater fans might have been intrigued to see Tony winner Debra Monk stalk the stage as Big Mama. Many others might have been curious to take a peep at bombshell starlet Scarlett Johansson in the lead as Maggie (the Cat).

The show, which has a run time of nearly three hours, offers two intermissions that seem like a welcome reprieve from the laborious cat-and-mouse games that take place onstage as potential heirs vie for the vast Southern plantation owned by dying patriarch Big Daddy (Ciaran Hinds). That’s because it’s not a play that can rest on its plot. Most of the big secrets — that are to be held up and turned in the light like fine yet flawed gems — come out in the first act. Afterward, it’s just a matter of seeing how the characters bait one another with these revelations and subsequently adjust to each other’s feints. To that end, the impetus should undoubtedly be placed on the actors — though the concept seems to be far from director Rob Ashford’s radar. Unknowns with something to prove might have added a sense of rawness and purity that this production so desperately craves; these cast members are more like show diamonds already indelibly cut and comfortable in their grooves.

Aside from the lush set (literally; its bedroom/bar combo more than underscores the dual demons of Brick, played unevenly by Benjamin Walker), Ashford also spent time on distinctive offstage sound cues, such as shouts, laughter and fireworks, that broke through the play’s most riveting tension at times that were just too well-timed. These often made it hard to believe that a full-fleshed party is actually going on beyond the doors of the sumptuous suite where all of the action takes place. Perhaps this alienation was the director’s intention, but time spent on the punctuation of sound elements might have been best invested in the character’s beats in order to further complicate what is, at its heart, not as much feline but a very human play.

If you go

‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’
Through March 30
Richard Rodgers Theatre,
226 W. 46th St.
$77-$142,
www.catonahottinroofbroadway.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, www.hudsoncommonnyc.com The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…

Movies

Review: Sadly, Matthew Weiner's 'Are You Here' is…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner tries his hand at movies with "Are You Here," a misjudged Owen Wilson-Zach Galifianakis comedy that turns into a drama.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…