With explosive family situations and a panorama of unhappy marriages, Tennessee Williams’ CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF is a classic for a reason. Set in the span of one summer evening, it’s the story of one family in crisis and teeming with secrets. Margaret (Marisa Brown) is stuck in a whirlwind of hardness and insecurity in her life with Brick (Andrew Mooers), an alchoholic who is simply disgusted by his wife. Brick’s marriage mirrors that of his father’s, Big Daddy (Marc Schule), who is told a lie meant to protect him. Big Daddy is married to Big Mama (Lauren Rozensky Flanagan), and of course, it is not a happy one. Gooper (Eric Rupp) is Big Daddy’s unfavored son and tries desperately, with his wife Mae (Jane Gibbons), to get what he feels he is owed.
When a playhouse performs a classic like this, it can flirt in dangerous territory. Unlike a musical, where mistakes can sometimes be hidden, the group of play actors is on stage with the audience hanging on every word. Playcrafters is almost always blessed with fantastic actors who can do a classic play justice, and this is definitely the case again. Two actors in particular absolutely hit it out of the ballpark.
Act I is focused on Margaret and Brick, with Brown having 99% of the lines. She is completely mesmerizing, going through every possible emotion as she tries to come to terms with the fact that her husband hates her. She starts off hard, gradually showing her desperation. Mooers is quite good when he’s giving Brick that sarcastic edge in a drunken stupor. When Schule enters the picture in Act II, he is excellent as the ornery head of the family, just given a new lease on life. He acts with every ounce of his being, and when he’s finally told that his family has been lying to him, his reaction almost had me in tears. Little nuances are what differentiate between a portrayal that is caricature from one which is believable, and with every subtle change of expression, Brown and Schule have it in spades.
Some of the actors try a little too hard, with some of their loud emotions sounding forced. If they pulled back, it would sound far more natural, as most of us do not go around screaming all day. Also, I would have liked to have seen the lights brought down where Act II is supposed to end. I understand that having another intermission would have made the night very long, but there still should be some natural end to the act instead of combining Acts II and III…especially since it’s written as “A Play in Three Acts” in the program.
Playcrafters continues their long tradition of success with CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. I always enjoy the extremely varied season there…this month, a classic…in October, ZOMBIE PROM!
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Marie Bishop
August 16-September 1, 2012
Playcrafters of Skippack
2011 Store Road