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Lyric Theatre: Previewed 5 September, Opened 18 September 2001, Closed 12 January 2002

Play by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Anthony Page, designed by Maria Bjornson with lighting by Howard Harrison.

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The long rumoured production starring Brendan Fraser finally makes it into London's West End.

In Big Daddys' house, nothing is as it seems. Big Daddy is dying of cancer, though he believes he is in good health. His son Gooper and his wife greedily await their inheritance. Meanwhile, his favourite son Brick, is a drunken ex-football star whose abusiveness is destroying his marriage to the sensuous Maggie. As Maggie fights to win back her husband, Big Daddy learns the truth about his illness and the shocking secret behind Bricks behaviour....

Cast includes Brendan Fraser and Frances O'Connor with Ned Beatty, Gemma Jones, Abigail McKern and Clive Carter.

News about the show

On 22 July 2001: This long rumoured production starring Brendan Fraser was originally expected to make it into the West End in Autumn 2000 but it never materialised - now, a year later, it has been confirmed that the production will open at the Lyric Theatre on 18 September 2001.

On 4 November 2001: A two week extension up to 12 January 2002 was announced.

Extracts from the reviews:

"World-famous as the square-jawed action hero of The Mummy, Brendan Fraser now makes his West End debut as the square-jawed passive hero who has to face up to Big Daddy in Anthony Page's powerful revival of Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Fraser is well cast as Brick, the son of a Southern millionaire and former college football star, who has subsided into alcohol and marital impotence after the death of a fellow-athlete with whom he seems to have had the kind of passionately pure friendship that may embrace sublimated homosexual desire... Pent-up and wiry, [Frances] O'Connor delivers a terrific performance of charged frustration, barbed wit, and tenacity..." The Independent

"...Anthony Page's new production doesn't efface memories of Howard Davies's at the National in 1988 but it gets across Williams's barbed comedy and emotional fervour and it has the extra advantage of three North American actors in the lead roles. Frances O'Connor's Maggie the cat has exactly the right feline sexiness, lust for territory and frantic restlessness. Brendan Fraser, in the more difficult role of Brick, also strongly suggests a man whose senses are dulled by his prodigious alcoholic intake but who has an acute sense of the corruption and mendacity that surrounds him. Ned Beatty may not be as earth-larding as some Big Daddies but he gives us all of the man's chauvinist coarseness, savage humour and apprehension of death... In all, a production that captures well the passion and power of the state of Tennessee." The Guardian

"...The sight of two attractive people tearing each other to shrewds is always appealing, but I have to say that Brendan Fraser and Frances O'Connor test one's patience... Anthony Page's lacklustre production fails to galvanise the action or serve up the raw meatiness of the play as required. This should not be a night out for vegetarians. Instead, we have a patchwork version, pointlessly incorporating the hitherto unheard third act adjustments, that pays tribute to the play without releasing its magic or power. No serious director would allow Fraser to stare at the audience in the way he does here, like a wounded doe looking for sympathy. Most of the night, hobbling on a crutch with his left leg in plaster, he seems to be justifying only his own reputation as charming eye-candy. This makes it difficult for Frances O'Connor, who turns in a really tremendous perforamnce - agile, bright, funny, sexy and clever - though her departure in the second act leaves a gaping hole in the night..." The Daily Mail

"...A family - rich as Creosus and twice as mean - cringes under the whip of the plantation patriarch Big Daddy. To avoid him and his world of lies, his effete footballer son Brick (Fraser) climbs inside a whisky bottle for solace. Meanwhile Maggies, his wife, prowls the bedroom desperate for the sort of loving Brick can't give her. Fraser makes the part his own as he sluices his liver and hobbles about on a crutch looking tragic. But as Maggie, Frances O'Connor sprays the furniture with her sexual hunger - a sensational performance which introduces this actress as a major new talent..." The Express

 
 
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