Cat on A Hot Tin Roof- notes

I don't know the play very well.
I only know the filmed white washed version that makes it thematically more palatable and acceptable to a Hollywood audience

Undeniably-at least for me- the acting in that film is first rate. Paul Neuman to me seems in touch with his angry and turned against himself self. Liz Taylor can't  half act. 

The problem is that the film is an awful reinterpretation of TW's play and does audiences a disservice if they wish to see the play as TW intended.

I spent 45 minutes watching Benedict Andrew's production unable to let go of Richard Brooks' interpretation and Liz Taylor's Maggie before I could understand where Sienna Miller was coming from. Before I could understand why Brick was exactly that, a brick wall in absolutely every way possible. SM has to hoist so much of it for an hour, getting nothing from Jack O'Connell so that one cannot understand how this Brick and this Maggie could ever get together. There is not even any kind of platonic compatibility or empathy. It is as hard as nails.

But then, in TW's perhaps structurally flawed play, after the interval one sees why Maggie is as she is. She is not as big in this set up as she would like to be, certainly not as much as the film leads you on to believe.  The chemistry between Brick and Big Daddy is almost 100% in this version. How Maggie has to fight for her life. In the film version, the impression given by the preparation of the actors, probably not intended, is that this state of affairs between Brick and Maggie is relatively new. Here, BA's directing, where the actors' chose to pitch their performances, one can tell it has been going on for so long. And there is no hope in any platonic shared niceness.  Brooks' gave us something to hold onto, BA gives us nothing.

It is like watching a moving Francis Bacon picture. The framing device is even the same. Magda Willi's set also allows for optical illusions- deliberate?- the gold leaf walls blend into each other to give a sense of side false walls: the actors walk through this weird gold like mist to get onto the stage. They are breaking a circle, or crossing a boundary into a sacred space?
There is a frame within a frame and an elevated stage, just like in so many Bacon paintings. Bacon really stripped things down to primal animal instincts and fights for survival. Same here. The gold leaf wall at the back distorts in Jon Clark's light, warps in fact. And what this does to that moment at the end, so necessary to stage it in such a way that for a second one thinks a Bacon painting has come alive. It is the best and most genius moment of the production.

At times the kids stand on the edges of this stage within a stage like wax works or dolls. Why? 
Actors have to step awkwardly up onto the inset stage. It is a prison, Brick's hell, set away from the rest of the world, or, this stage is the only world, everything that happens off it seems unreal, why?
To increase the artifice, fireworks emphasise and punctuate- very pleasingly- moments of high drama.
The inner stage reaches out over the original edge and over hangs into the audience. 
It's hard core this production. Like Ben Brantley says, there is nowhere at all for anyone to hide. Not even Brick in his shower. There is no offer of hope. Like in real life most likely. 
I can't understand why the critics have focussed on the nakedness for all the wrong reasons.
It is so entirely necessary, especially at the end. Can't they see it, feel it? Critics have a responsibility to respond maturely to something they especially think an audience or general public may wish to respond immaturely to. Quentin Letts' was particularly abhorrent although it says more about his internal life than anything else.
But this response to the idea of nakedness on a west end stage has angered me. Of course everyone will make a fuss about it for the wrong reasons says everyone whilst making a fuss about it.
Why do they not see?

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