Hot Cat

Following the success of Track 3, a highly original adaptation of Chekhov's Three Sisters, Theatre Movement Bazaar return to the Fringe with their steaming-new adaptation of Tenessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. For lovers of the original or of the film starring Liz Taylor and Paul Newman, this version is bound to be frustrating, dispensing as it does with Williams' script almost altogether, but what Hot Cat lacks in fidelity to the original it more than makes up for in ingenuity.

The set is a simple backcloth and desk-cabinet that houses Brick's whisky (sans soda) and is otherwise wonderfully uncluttered: almost every item is utilised in a number of ways. Brick's cabinet acts as a television set, his crutch as a rifle or croquet mallet.

The set is a simple backcloth and desk-cabinet that houses Brick's whisky (sans soda) and is otherwise wonderfully uncluttered: almost every item is utilised in a number of ways. Brick's cabinet acts as a television set, his crutch as a rifle or croquet mallet. The actors remain onstage for much of the performance, even when not involved in the action, allowing the company to show off their slick movement routines whilst providing the audience with a helpful indication of which character is being referred to when - a necessary requirement amid the non-linear mayhem of Hot Cat.

Lines are delivered directly to the audience even when characters are in conversation. Formally daring as this is, it deflates Williams' characters into two-dimensional cut-outs of their living, breathing originals, as though these characters are merely being presented to the audience as artifacts rather than engaging with each other in a natural and believable way.

The problem, of course, with cutting up a play like Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and reducing it to a series of perfectly executed dance figures and catchy musical numbers is that characters and plot alike disappear in a desperate attempt to make everything an aesthetic masterpiece, at the cost of real narrative development. Gooper and Mae's grasping for Big Daddy's inheritance is still there, as is Big Daddy's birthday party and Brick's alcoholism and sterile marriage with Maggie, but other aspects of the original, such as Brick's relationship with his friend Skipper and Big Daddy's rejection of Big Mama, are barely touched upon. This is limiting, especially for audience members who haven't read Williams' play.

Some of that heady inventiveness, both in movement and character, that so defined Track 3 appears to be missing from Hot Cat, perhaps because the former is on tour and this is the company's ‘sub-show’. This is odd, given that, to my mind, Theatre Movement Bazaar's inimitable style - a blend of song, text and movement - is more suited to Williams than Chekhov, where their comedic flair obscured the deliberate banality of the original. Hot Cat could probably do with being just that little bit darker too, but in spite of its failings as an adaptation, as a piece of theatre it is still bewilderingly impressive to watch.

Reviews by Rik Baker

Pleasance Theatre

Folie à Deux

★★★★★
Hispaniola

Albee Vector the Sound Collector

★★★★★
theSpace @ Symposium Hall

PratFall

Assembly Roxy

Anthem for a Doomed Youth

★★★★
C venues - C nova

NSFW

★★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Hot Cat

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Welcome to the Deep South. Family politics, power, sexuality and greed collide in ‘a comically surreal blend of text, dance and humour’ (LA Times). ‘If you're a fan of the formally daring and witty- you need to see this’ (KCRW). Riffing on the Tennessee Williams classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hot Cat is the latest show from the Los Angeles-based Theatre Movement Bazaar, the company behind multiple international award-winning sensations, Anton's Uncles and Track 3. ***** (FringeReview.co.uk, WhatsOnStage.com, Edinburgh Reporter). ‘Mad, rad and dangerous to miss’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com).