One of my all-time favorite movies is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. So when I saw that it was coming back to Broadway I was thrilled! Immediately I emailed my husband the Broadway message I had received about it and then figured I'd wait and see what happened. Well he was pretty amazing because for Christmas that's what I got...two tickets see the beloved play on Broadway...in New York City! Needless to say I was beyond excited!
So this past weekend was the date of the show and Prince Charming and I spent the day together in the Big Apple. It was a much needed day without kids. What a novel idea to be able to have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband! We saw the World Trade Center Memorial, went ice skating in Central Park, had dinner and took in the show. Plus we had two nights at home without the girls...it was wonderful! (Don't get me wrong..I love my babies more than anything...but you moms and dads out there know what I mean)
Well, after I got home, I decided I should share my experience with y'all...so...here are my thoughts on the play turned movie turned play again....spoiler alert...
Okay so lets's start with a short history lesson on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The play was written by Tennessee Williams in 1955 and was adapted to the big screen in 1958. The play has been redone several times as well as had a TV version. In the original play the issue of homosexuality is addressed and plays a big part in the main character, Brick's, drinking. However when the play was adapted for the big screen Williams was not happy because they changed that aspect of the play according to the Hays Code (the movies' list of dos and don'ts at the time) . It was during a time when such things were not discussed through the media. However having now seen both the play and the film I can see why he was upset because the issue had deep rooted meaning for the character. The film did allude to the idea without ever actually addressing it but the forthrightness of the issue is certainly more prevalent in the play.
Alright now for the synopsis...watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is almost like stepping into the life of a dysfunctional (to say the least) family where you have no background knowledge on anyone but as the day progresses you discover the dynamics between the family members and the issues they all have with each other are unfolded before your eyes.
The story takes place in Mississippi on a cotton plantation owned by Big Daddy Pollitt and occurs through the course of a single day. Right away we begin by finding out that everyone thinks Big Daddy has cancer. Maggie "the cat" and Brick are married and living together but the marriage is on the rocks, for what reasons which are yet unknown to the audience. She is determined though to not let Gooper (Brick's brother) and his wife Mae inherit Big Daddy's plantation while Brick is not so cooperative with her intentions. He is uninterested in Big Daddy's fortune and could care less what happens should he die. Maggie loves her husband and for some past discretion, which is unknown to the viewer for the first part of the show/movie, Brick is punishing her with his coldness. What I love about the movie is that you can see the longing and desperation in Maggie to have her husband love her again while Brick has nothing but utter disgust for his southern belle of a wife. All the while, she pretends that everything between she and Brick is fine and ignores his disgust and has that ever longing hope that his love for her will resurface. Mae and Gooper are nosey and tattle to Big Momma telling her that Maggie and Brick sleep in separate beds and he won't sleep with her which is while she is childless. Mae and Gooper on the other hand have 5 children with one on the way, a fact which they along with their children gloat over. Big Daddy however can't stand Gooper, Mae OR their five "no-neck monsters" as Maggie so eloquently calls them. Maggie is just like a female with all their catty-ness and has that feminine quality in a typical southern belle with soft gentility; however if you cross them they'll scratch your eyes out. In the words of Bruno Mars "you'll smile in my face then rip the brakes out my car". She knows how to used her femininity to her advantage. So Big daddy arrives and the doctor has told them that he's going to be alright but tells Gooper and Brick the truth. Throughout the course of the evening Brick's drinking increases and Big Daddy and he have it out...apparently something they don't do too often. Just like with many families they skirt over the real issues in their lives and make nice with one another but tonight, for the Pollits it's another story. All the issues are brought to light between each family member and while the play leaves little to be truly resolved, the movie brings about a somewhat happier ending with reconciliation between Brick and Maggie and Brick and Big Daddy.
Okay, so what's the big deal with this dysfunctional family drama? Why do I love it so much? I asked myself that question the other night when I was on the way home from New York. Prince Charming and I were talking about it and I think it's because Big Daddy and his family seemed to have everything that would make a person happy. But did it? No. They were just like every other family out there will all their dysfunctional glory and they deal with issues the way most of us do....they don't. You find that most of the time with family and extended family people try and get along while often times holding things in and living by the "golden rule" (if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all) mentality. What I love about the story is that all the issues are brought to light. The truth is told and they can finally deal with the skeletons in the closets.
One of my favorite quotes was when Maggie tells Brick, "I'm more determined than you think. I'll win alright."
To which Brick replies sarcastically, "What's the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?"
"Just stayin' on it I guess...as long a she can..." Isn't that like life? Sometimes life gets tough and you want to quit but you just keep hanging on waiting for it to get better? I love that about Maggie. She believes in herself and in their relationship. It's like that quote in my sidebar by Layne Beachley, "There are so many people who out there who will tell you that you can't. What you've got to do is turn around and say 'Watch me'". I am reminded of myself in a lot of ways when I see Maggie. Especially in this respect. I can't stand when someone tells me I can't do something. I will climb mountains to prove them wrong. I love how she is quiet but so determined. She was raised to be a lady but when pushed she won't back down. I admire her strength and commitment and relate to the passive-aggressive ways she tries to motivate Brick. Okay, okay, I know I'm getting a little carried away..she is after all just a character in a story. But isn't that was moves people to watch them? Their relatability? Cat on a Hot Tin Roof embodies the essence of American dysfunction...to which I can relate. There is love, jealousy, passion, longing, guilt, arrogance, pride, ego, tenderness, and reconciliation. It's the American way...unless you're lucky enough to live the Leave It to Beaver life...which let me tell you is truly rare.
Alright, now I will let you know what I thought about the play. First, what I love about the movie is the acting. You can hear the pain and desperation in Maggie's voice. You see that she truly loves her husband and that he is fighting those feelings because of his anger and disgust. Scarlett Johannson in my opinion was not able to communicate this in her performance. Maggie is supposed to be feminine yet strong and catty. However Scarlett's voice was too deep and she didn't seem to try and be feminine in any way. Southern girls went to finishing school and were taught to be ladies but Johannson's "Maggie" did not pull that aspect of the character off and to be honest, it was difficult to hear her and "get" that she really loved Brick. I do realize that theater productions must be done differently because you cannot catch every look or expression the way you can on a movie screen. Thus said, the acting compared to Elizabeth Taylor was not even comparable. To be honest, I've never been a Scarlett Johannson fan even though I think she's adorable...I haven't like many of her recent performances. And to be fair, I DID go into the play with an open mind thinking I just didn't like the characters she had played in the past. This time around though, it wasn't the character I didn't like, it was her portrayal of her.
Okay, so let's get down to the crux of the issue...what y'all really want to know....would I recommend the play or go see it again? YES! I love the story and though the acting was somewhat to be desired the play was amazing! I am biased because I LOVE the movie version and I love Liz Taylor and Paul Newman as actors (anyone see Cool Hand Luke?) (plus he's gorgeous with those blue eyes so that doesn't hurt). lol
So all I can say is this...watch the show. Watch the play. I think you'll love them!