A star cast led by Joss Ackland as Big Daddy performs the rarely produced original version of Tennessee Williams’ classic drama ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’
on BBC R3 on Sunday March 16. When premiered on Broadway in 1955, the director Elia Kazan asked Williams to rewrite the third act, which he did, but the playwright never abandoned his first version, requesting that the audience should be able to judge his original intentions, which this production will allow them to do.
‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’
tells the story of a wealthy Southern family in crisis. Hypocrisy, greed and secret passions threaten to tear apart the dysfunctional Mississippi family. The play searingly portrays the larger-than-life characters of Maggie “the Cat,” her alcoholic husband, Brick, and the dominating family patriarch, Big Daddy. A hot-house of corruption and lies, the drama is played out against a backdrop of rampant 1950’s Cold War anti-communism, white domination, racial segregation, and intense homophobia.
In addition to Joss Ackland, who has long wanted to portray the flawed but powerful character of Big Daddy, the R3 production of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer-prize-winning play includes Gemma Jones as Big Mama, the Hollywood film actress Elizabeth McGovern as Maggie “the Cat”, Roy Dotrice as Rev Tooker, Marcus D’Amico as Brick Pollitt and Alison Steadman as Mae.
Joss Ackland, CBE, who is still making Hollywood films at the age of 80, is best-known for his villainous roles, making his film debut in 1949’s Seven Days to Noon. His more recent films include White Mischief, Lethal Weapon 2, The Hunt for Red October, K19: The Widowmaker. He also won great acclaim for his portrayal of author CS Lewis in the film, Shadowlands.
The third act in this version is a much tighter piece of writing than the Broadway version. Big Daddy who dominates Act Two is a looming off-stage presence in Act 3, and the moral paralysis of Brick is allowed to continue unredeemed, whilst the theatrical fireworks of the thunderstorm are removed, focussing the denouement on the tangled, desperate relationship of Maggie and Brick.
© 2008 Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd.