A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a play that focuses on relationships and lies. It takes place over the course of an evening in Brick and Margaret/Maggie’s room in Brick’s father’s house, Big Daddy, in Mississippi. It is Big Daddy’s birthday, and he has been told he has a clean bill of health, but he is actually dying from cancer, which all the other characters know apart from his wife, Big Mama. It is clear from the outset that there is some tension between Brick and Maggie, and the history between them and Brick’s friend, Skipper, who has committed suicide, is revealed during the course of the play.
Clwyd Theatre Cymru’s production was well paced with some very strong performances. Catrin Stewart was excellent as Maggie, in a very challenging part, as was Desmond Barritt as Big Daddy. I also did not recognise Gareth David-Lloyd as Brick at all! To a non-trained ear, the Southern accents to me all sounded very good. I thought the set, designed by Janet Bird, was very effective. The room had open spaces rather than doors, reflecting the fact that lies and secrets can’t be hidden forever; when Maggie locks the room door at one point, Big Mama moves around and comes in another way.
I wasn’t familiar with the play at all beforehand and I enjoyed it, although it certainly isn’t a light evening’s entertainment, with themes of death and alcoholism. Clwyd Theatr Cymru has recently acquired a new artistic director, Tamara Harvey, and from this production the company seems to be in very safe hands.