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

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…