Cat on a Hot Tin Roof sizzles at Flat Rock Playhouse
With the cool weather approaching, Flat Rock Playhouse Mainstage offers audiences some heat with the production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof through November 18. Perhaps the best-known work of American playwright, Tennessee Williams, the Nobel Prize-winning play sizzles with emotions as the members of a wealthy cotton plantation family in Mississippi deal with imminent death of family patriarch, Big Daddy Pollitt.
As they gather to celebrate Big Daddy’s 65th birthday, Williams masterfully peels back the layers of their relationships, focusing on the younger son, Brick, and his wife, Margaret (the "Cat"). Incorporating a volatile language and incessant tempo, he exposes the discontent, jealousy, and mendacity that can occur between family members vying for a dying father's inheritance and underlying acceptance.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof first appeared on Broadway in 1955, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that same year. It reached even greater renown when it was adapted as a film with the same title in 1958, starring Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie (the “Cat”) and Paul Newman as Brick.
The Flat Rock Playhouse production, directed by Tony Award-winning director Marcia Milgrom Dodge (Broadway Revival of Ragtime), portrays the emotional battle in full force. For some of the characters, Adria Vitlar (Margaret) and Barbara Bradshaw (Big Mama), in particular, her direction tends to be a bit over the top at times.
The understated and powerful acting prowess of J. Kenneth Campbell, as he garners both pity and revulsion for the narcissistic Big Daddy, makes the show. Robert Eli is also compelling as the self-destructive Brick. His constant hopping about the stage on his uninjured foot, however, detracts from Williams’ metaphor of his crippled emotional state.
Preston Dyar is convincing as the under appreciated but overly greedy brother, Gooper and Erin Maguire, who plays is eternally pregnant wife, Mae, is quite good at getting on everyone’s nerves. Michael MacCauley plays Doc Baugh with so little emotion; it appears that he was thrown in the action at the last minute, which may have been the director’s intent. It was nice to see Scott Treadway tread the boards at FRP again, albeit in the other very subdued minor role as Reverend Tooker.
For the most part, Flat Rock Playhouse does justice to this American classic. The simple, unchanging set of the “bed-sitting room” of a plantation home works well for the Mainstage space. The dying vines on the pillars add interesting visual metaphors for the crumbling home in the decaying Old South (scenic design by James W. Johnson).
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs through November 18 with evening performances Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 pm and matinee performances are Wednesday, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2:00 pm.
The Playhouse will host a special Audio Described matinee performance for the sight-impaired patrons on Saturday, November 17.
Tickets are $35 with discounts available for seniors, AAA members, military personnel, students, and groups and can be purchased, by calling the Playhouse box office at 828-693-0731, toll-free at 866-732-8008 or online at www.flatrockplayhouse.org.
Flat Rock Playhouse Mainstage is located at 2661 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock, NC.