I was fortunate enough to be at the West End performance of the Tennessee Williams play currently showing in London last night. It is remarkable in that it is an all black cast and a very powerful reworking of this classic play. It was fabulous (if you get the chance do go – James Earl Jones plays the part of Big Daddy and it is a wonderful opportunity to hear such an amazing voice. The rest of the cast, full of familiar faces, are also very impressive with very Adrian Lester playing a very troubled Brick). Anyway, I had forgotten how littered the play is with timeless wisdom.
If you recall, the basic plot is a dysfunctional family coming to terms with their inability to communicate with one another successfully and living with family lies or “mendacity”. The family are home for Big Daddy’s (James Earl Jones) 65th birthday, who has cancer and little time to live, but has been told that he merely has a spastic colon. The adult children, who have their own problems, find one moment of agreement and determine to tell their parents the truth about Big Daddy’s health. The question of inheritance is swiftly on the lips with open season on an $80m estate.
It is a fabulous play, and whilst written in 1939 and set in the mid 1950’s provides a timeless insight into the human condition. The play reminds us of how important it is to always have the right perspective on family, life and wealth. Big Daddy reminds us “I’ve got the guts to die. What I want to know is have you got the guts to live?”.
“Time goes by so fast. Nothin’ can outrun it. Death commences too early – almost before you’re half acquainted with life – you meet the other..”
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is currently showing at the Novello Theatre until 10th April 2010.
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