Brevity Is the Soul of Wit

Brevity Is the Soul of Wit

A brief word about brevity on Broadway. There is more action, suspense, drama in 70-minute, intermissionless The Other Place at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre than there is in the new production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that opened last night at the Richard Rodgers—all three acts, two intermissions and just under three hours of it. And far less screeching, too. Cheers for Sharr White's lean, fast-paced and well-constructed script. As for Tennessee Williams, he does go on. Driving White's locomotive, with Joe Mantello in the director's chair, is Laurie Metcalf, whose nuanced performance of a neurologist sinking into dementia is the one to beat this season. Check out the scene in which Metcalf wolfs down Chinese takeout: Not since Carol Channing demolished a plate of dumplings in Hello, Dolly! exactly 50 years ago has Broadway seen such virtuosic gluttony. Riveting. A word of praise, though, for Cat's Maggie, Scarlett Johansson. She stalks the stage like a tigress, striking a pigeon-toed stance now and again to reveal her character's core of vulnerability. Here's one smart young actress, building a solid career on stage and screen one demanding project at a time. She's on her way, but Metcalf's already there. By a mile.