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Emotions simmer and explode in Debbie Allen’s partially recast Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ 1955 drama of frustrated desire, ambiguous sexuality, failed ambition and financial greed.

It’s a volatile mix which comes to a head as the Pollitt family gather to celebrate the 65th birthday of wealthy plantation owner Big Daddy (a commanding, foul-mouthed and misogynistic James Earl Jones) who’s dying of cancer but doesn’t know it.

Her all black revival keeps the Deep South setting but moves the action forward 30 years. It isn’t always sufficiently steamy, and Sanaa Lathan’s sensual Maggie the cat is more determined than damaged.

But Adrian Lester’s understated performance as Brick (her booze-soaked husband and the favoured son) memorably captures the former sportsman’s chronic detachment which finally detonates in a confrontation of defeated self-disgust

LOUISE KINGSLEY

» Novello, Aldwych, WC2B 4LD (0844 482 5170) Charing Cross tube. Until April 10. £10 - £49.50


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