The Summer Company “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” Review
The Summer Company, housed at Duquesne University, is currently presenting one of Tennessee Williams’ best-known works. The Pulitzer Prize winning play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, follows one night in the life of the Pollitt family at their plantation in Mississippi. The entire family has gathered to celebrate Big Daddy’s birthday, but the real focus of this play revolves around the relationship between Brick, Big Daddy’s son, and his wife, Maggie.
Maggie, played by Cassandra Hough, is one of the most notable female characters in modern literature. Her future, which was once clearly defined, is derailed by potential financial ruin and a sexless marriage. The play begins with Maggie and Brick picking up a conversation they have been having for years, yet haven’t quite finished. Ms. Hough does a fine job with the difficult role, but she didn’t really shine until Act 3; perhaps just opening night jitters.
The stand out in the cast was Brick, played by “Pittsburgh Dad” Curt Wootton. A character of very few words, and a problem with alcohol, is filled with guilt and a hint of longing for the life he once had. Mr. Wootton’s timing and intensity were perfect, and Act 2, which features incredibly awkward conversations with Big Daddy, could not have been more solid. John E Lane, Jr., who plays Big Daddy, delivers a larger than life performance of a larger than life character who is caught somewhere between life and death.
Gooper and Mae Pollitt, played by Michael McBurney and Jill Jeffrey, respectively, round out the leading players with a little malice and a lot of manipulation. Mae spends most of her stage time pointing out the fact that she has five children, and one on the way, while Maggie is still childless; and Gooper, a lawyer, has already drawn up the documents to take possession of the plantation from his father, if he can get Big Daddy to sign them. Although the roles were well played overall, they did tend to pull focus with side conversations during the larger scenes.
The director, Justin Sines, does a great job navigating a large cast in a very small space; and the set, designed by John E. Lane Jr., and the lighting, designed by Dale Hess, compliment the show nicely. Overall, the play was a wonderful tribute to this great work and my only real complaint was the lack of children. Buster, played by Korey Grecek, does a fine job as the son of Gooper and Mae, but having all of the children would have made the story more believable.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof plays this week, August 29-31, at 8:00pm in the Peter Mills Auditorium at Duquesne University. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. More information can be found at thesummercompany.com.
Posted by Debra Sherrer