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Instead it features Brick and his father, engaged in a lengthy discussion, which at times leaves the drama feeling slightly one-note.
Scarlett Johansson’s performance as Maggie, the lead in Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, marks her return to the theatre following her widely acclaimed Broadway debut in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge – and she could barely have chosen a more challenging role.The first half-hour of the three-hour play is almost solely reliant on long monologues from Maggie, with only the briefest of interruptions from her husband Brick (Benjamin Walker).What’s more, comparisons with the most famous incumbent of that character are inevitable.Like Elizabeth Taylor, Johansson is a former child actress who tentatively moved into adult roles before taking the big screen by storm and becoming one of Hollywood’s leading sex symbols.All the play’s action is set in one room: Maggie and Brick’s bedroom.Throughout the three acts, various family members enter, to discuss the play’s intertwined plot threads, including the fact that Brick’s father, Big Daddy, is dying of cancer but does not yet know it, and Brick’s battle with alcoholism, brought on by feelings of guilt over the death of his best friend Skipper.
Vital, too, is Brick’s anger towards his wife Maggie.
Mercifully for Johansson, Maggie is barely in the second act, even if the play is slightly less engaging for her absence.
And like Taylor, who was 25 when she took the role of Maggie opposite Paul Newman in the 1958 film, Johansson (28) delivered a charismatic, if at times slightly breathless, performance.
Affecting a very passable Southern accent, her Maggie flits between rage at the fact her husband no longer seems even to like her, and sorrow that she cannot force him to.
In between, there are moments of genuine comedy that drew loud laughs and applause.
One wonders, though, how her vocal cords will hold up during the 15-week run – at times, she seemed on the verge of losing her famously husky voice.