REVIEW: Cat on a Hot Tin roof sizzles at the New Wolsey

Oliver Johnstone and Siena Kelly star in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich from October 12-16

Oliver Johnstone (Brick) and Siena Kelly (Maggie) in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Marc Brenner.

Mendacity: The key theme of one of Tennessee Williams' most beloved play 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'.

It was a word that I was not familiar with myself before entering the theatre for the New Wolsey's latest offering but not one that I am likely to forget after leaving it. 

Williams' offering, his preferred of all his pieces, is still as relevant today as it ever was even almost 60 years after it was first performed. 

A modern tale with a world filled with people determined to keep secrets and lie while keeping up a certain appearance feels particularly relevant in the age of social media and influencers.  

There was something stifling, claustrophobic and intense about the performance, in the best kind of way of course, as Brick struggles to keep his wife Maggie and extended family away from him not only physically but emotionally too.

It was an idea that was reflected on set with a circular curtain around the set trapping the lead on occasion and separating him from other characters during other scenes. 

The moving in and out of characters from the scene – perhaps one where they don't even have anything to say – adds to the feeling that the ears certainly do have walls and that mendacity is ever present. 

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Indeed the very simple set betrayed a much more complex arrangement of figures on stage. Each one seemingly poised to listen in on the others. 

It's definitely worth listening closely as the productions sound design is beautifully understated and pitch perfect. It added to the tension on set at crucial points without drawing away from the physical action at all. 

Oliver Johnstone's Brick captivated the audience showing moments of childlike innocence as well as very real and adult shame about his own mendacity while Peter Forbes' Big Daddy captured well a man desperate to live life to its fullest, despite what it might do to others, at a time when his future is less than bright. 

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs at the New Wolsey Theatre until October 16.