Theatre Mirror Reviews - "CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF"

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2017 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Epic Theatre Company is "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", written by Tennessee Williams. The show first opened on Broadway on March 24, 1955 starring Ben Gazzara, Barbara Bel Geddes and Burl Ives. In 1958, it was turned into a movie starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives. It is the story of a Southern family in crises, focusing on the turbulent relationship of a wife and husband, Maggie, "The Cat" and Brick Pollitt, and their interaction with Brick's family over the course of one evening. They gather at the family estate in Mississippi, supposedly to celebrate the birthday of the patriarch and tycoon, "Big Daddy" Pollitt. Maggie, through wit and beauty, has escaped a childhood of desperate poverty to marry into the wealthy Pollitt family, but finds herself suffering in an unfulfilling marriage. Brick, an aging football hero, has neglected his wife and further infuriates her by ignoring his brother's attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Brick's indifference and his near continuous drinking date back to the recent suicide of his friend, Skipper. Brick has a hidden secret which Maggie addresses in the first act and his father, Big Daddy in the second act. Big Daddy is unaware that he has cancer and will not live to see another birthday; his doctors and family have conspired to keep this information from him and his wife. His relatives are in attendance and hope to present themselves in the best possible light, in the hopes of receiving the definitive share of Big Daddy's enormous wealth. Williams' poetic dialogue still backs a punch over 61 years later and even though the show is billed as a drama, it contains many funny moments to temper it. Director Kira Hawkridge casts these iconic roles splendidly and elicits fantastic performances from her talented hard working cast in the black box theatre setting.

Kira gives each of her performers their moment to shine in this spectacular show. Maggie is played with a seductive vulnerability by Kerry Giorgi. She is a gorgeous brunette who first appears in a frock which has been ruined by grape juice spilled on it by the no-neck monsters, Gooper and Mae's children. What Kerry grasps in this role is Maggie's hard driving sense of purpose. She is excellent especially in the first act which is almost a whole monologue for her. Kerry drives home Maggie's reasons to Brick which include that Maggie really loves him. It is also that a woman has her needs and if Maggie doesn't conceive a child, it's possible that the huge estate will go to the other son, Gooper and his annoyingly fertile and conniving wife, Mae. The brooding heavy drinking, Brick played superbly by David Sackal who exudes a petulant sexuality in this role. The intensity builds with Kerry in the first act and with Big Daddy in the second act. Finally by Act 3 the light dawns in the alcoholic son's brain, making Brick comfort his mother when she needs him. It leads the audience to believe he'll give up drinking and give Maggie the child they need to hold onto the family estate.

Eric Behr tackles the role of Big Daddy. He does a fabulous job as this cantankerous, curmudgeon who fears for his mortality. Big Daddy yells and swears at Brick during their argument scene and at everyone else who offends him. He exclaims telling lies on the plantation has become a way of life but he wants that to stop shouting "Liars, lying, dying" as he storms offstage at the end of Act 2. Eric is full of fire and brimstone as this larger than life character. Michelle Walker also does a fantastic job as Big Mama, the long suffering wife of this rich tycoon. She always tries to placate her husband. Michelle's most dramatic moment comes when Big Mama doesn't want to hear that Big Daddy's cancer might be terminal. Both she and Eric deliver gut wrenching performances in their roles.

Justin Paige is wonderful as he plays the role of the unloved son, Gooper. He gives his mother and father the grandchildren that they desire. But no matter how well he does with his law practice, Brick has always been the apple of their eye. Justin does a splendid job in this role. The constantly pregnant, Mae is played by Stephanie Traversa. She sulks around the stage spying and eavesdropping on Brick and Maggie as well as on Brick and Big Daddy. Stephanie turns into a shrew when she yells out that Maggie is a liar for telling Big Daddy that she is pregnant. Mae and Gooper know that isn't the case because they can distinctly hear that Brick and Maggie haven't made love in a long time. Rounding out the cast are Jason Quinn as Reverend Tooker and Justin Pimental as Doctor Baugh. So for a terrific look back at a classic show, be sure to catch the powerful and electrifying "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at Epic Theatre Company. Tell them Tony sent you. Stage manager Justin Fortin keeps things running smoothly all night long and handles the mood setting lighting effects splendidly, too.

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (13 to 28 January)
Epic Theatre Company, Theatre 82, 82 Rolfe Street, Cranston, RI
1(401) 368-7689 or

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