Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by

Tennessee Williams

Cast & Crew
Suzanne Hauser; Nick Hunter; Lara Dignam;
Jan Langford-Penny; Leof Kingsford-Smith; Jack fairweather;
and Emmanuelle Mattana

Stage Management by Lindsay Walton nad Reka Csutkai;
Taylor Allen - Lighting
Set design and Construction by Hecate
Roz Riley - Director.

Review by Wendy Lewis (playwright)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ; Sun 15th April. Star of the Sea Theatre. General Admission
We open with a fancy bedroom suite in Southern US, adorned with pretty colour schemes and floral curtains. Airy and spacious, you would think that nice people inhabit this room. Anything but. The room is the backdrop to the comings and goings of the wealthy Pollitt clan one particular evening – Big Daddy’s 65th birthday – but instead of celebration, the characters spend the evening locked into all things unkind, tortured and hateful. There’s venom in the room and it’s not just Big Daddy’s cancer and Brick’s alcoholism. Each and every one of them can face the truth or continue in their spiteful ways. Hardly surprising, they all find it impossible to break out of the cyclical patterns of destructive behaviour they have created themselves.

Going Round in Circles, Mendacity and Disgust are the big three themes that this production explores so well. Maggie the Cat is caught in circles of her own making, stuck in an unfulfilling marriage that she refuses to leave despite her unhappy husband showing her the door and even opening it for her to get the hell out of there. Maggie’s opening soliloquy is an adept display of a Southern Belle brimming with sexual confidence of her own allure, perky and poised. She preens herself, stretches her legs like a cat and totters around like an innocent ballerina.

And Brick’s absence from the stage makes us wonder – who is this man she is talking to? What kind of man is he? Why does she prattle non-stop? There’s an under current of desperation at her cheery recital which is chilling and authentic. What this scene sets up so well is her intense love for a man who is indifferent to her and we want to know what binds them... Brick is a wonderful portrayal of Disgust. Maggie disgusts him, the birthday celebrations disgust him, his scheming brother and sister-in-law disgust him. He gets more and more glazed as the evening wears on in a quietly controlled well-tuned display of drowning in drink. Yet there is still something loveable about him. Perhaps it is that everyone else has forgotten how to be genuine. He genuinely doesn’t care about anything any more so in his own way he is true. He tells Big Daddy that he has never lied to him. But ironically, Brick is as guilty of Mendacity as everyone else. The difference is that he is unable to confront his own personal turmoil around Skipper; he lies to himself.

Big Daddy is a masterful performance. The King, jolly, larger than life, the confident boasting man of the world. Yet he is also buckled down with pain, sneering, manipulative and full of contempt. The scenes between Brick and Big Daddy are standouts, there is an ease between the two that is incredibly moving to watch.

Big Mama’s voice takes a little adjusting to, but once it kicks in, it’s terrifically raucous. She manages to be on the brink of caricature but also convincingly vulnerable. The moment when Big Daddy spits out his hatred at her is shattering. Pinned to the wall, she almost shrinks, becoming so heartbreakingly small and defenceless that we can forgive her vulgarities. Mae and Gooper seems nothing more than bland at the beginning but as the story unfolds, Mae’s cattiness and Gooper’s conniving self-interest slowly emerge. They stand together on stage, giving a powerful visual cue that they are a joint immoveable force against the others. Mae’s hand rests on her pregnant belly, her way of smugly saying: I am superior to you. Their little no-neck monster is great, full of exuberance, doing nothing more than being a happy, boisterous child but still managing to annoy Big Daddy intensely.
LewisTheatreWeb Blog

Review by Dr. M. Miner
We all thought the production of Cat on Saturday night was an emotionally powerful experience. The play has timeless themes (some revisited particularly in the present) and the actors sustained the emotional impact throughout the evening. That was very difficult, I imagine, but the emotional expression was always under control. Suzanne Hauser was magnificent as Maggie - loved her slow rolling and unrolling of stockings, her seductive yet restrained poses, her ballet poses and slow raising of the leg, the expans ive gestures using arms to keep attention on her body.... She sustained the American accent beautifully (as did all of them). That's not to overlook the actors who played Big Daddy and Mamma - both larger than life but nuanced and hence able to draw our emotional responses over the whole evening. Brick was a puzzle for me at first - seemed a little too limp (even allowing for his depression, alcoholism and subservience) to be Big Daddy's favourite son. Easy to see why Gooper (lovely name!) was overlooked - and loved the presentation of his wife as so conventionally, spitefully female. Brick's demeanour made more sense in light of the homosexual theme towards the end. I appreciated the way he dealt with his guilt at the end of the play and showed the possibility of choosing life. It seemed the play showed why the particular poisonous relationships existed and clearly advocated honesty over hypocrisy - including the painful process of being honest about oneself. I liked the way the set was relatively sparse and focused on the bed. On costumes - liked Maggie's state of undress and the magnificent emerald green gown she wore near the end. Big Mamma was perfect in her sparkling top and pearls and Gooper's wife was great in her maternity dress with the sash (was there a bow at the back? felt it had to have a bow). Brick's white satin pyjamas were nicely symbolic. Overall, I enjoyed Cat on many levels - acting, costumes, set and the psychological reality of the production.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof   photographed by John Reeves