Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Maggie the Cat Is More like a Shrew

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Maggie the Cat Is More like a Shrew

Article excerpt


Broadway play revival, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St.

Written by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Rob Ashford.

With Scarlett Johansson, Benjamin Walker, Ciaran Hinds and Debra Monk.

Schedule: 7 p.m. Tuesday; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $75.75 to $152.25. Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or

If you go to the new production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" - which opened Thursday night at the Richard Rodgers Theatre -- wondering how Scarlett Johansson handles the iconic role of Maggie, it doesn't take long to find out.

The first act of Tennessee Williams' southern-fried 1955 drama of deceit and greed is a kind of theatrical aria for the frustrated Maggie, as she tries to seduce, prod and provoke her alcoholic husband Brick (Benjamin Walker) into resuming their sex life.

Taking on her first major Broadway part, Johansson tries, unfortunately, to wrestle the role to the ground. Perhaps attempting to prove she can be a "serious" actress, she abandons the cool, sexy, girlish persona she often displays onscreen in favor of grim doggedness.

Except for nicely filling out a satin slip, Johansson suggests little of the character's sensuality. And rather than conveying the never-say-die spirit that Williams admired in Maggie, Johansson presents the character as a nag. Wagging her finger in Brick's face and speaking in a monotonous scowl of a voice, Maggie is the shrewish wife of every husband's nightmare.

Brick has cruelly rejected Maggie's enticements because he's not that kind of guy; he's pining for Skipper, his dead college football teammate and BFF. But it would be perfectly understandable if he didn't want Maggie simply because she's a royal pain.

Johansson's game but unavailing performance is of a piece with much of the rest of this busy, noisy, shallow production, which has been staged by Rob Ashford, best-known for directing musicals.

The questions begin with Christopher Oram's design of Maggie and Brick's bedroom. …

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