A sassy southern girl, a drunken closet-gay man and an over-bearing family make up the biting classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Presented by Brisbane Arts Theatre & Dominie Pty LtdBrisbane Arts Theatre, Petrie Terrace, Brisbane Saturday, 31 July, 2010
A sassy southern girl, a drunken closet-gay man and an over-bearing family make up the biting classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Brisbane Arts Theatre’s production delivered an intensity that was enjoyable enough to entertain younger adults like myself that might find the era out of reach.
The play was written in 1955, and although the characters’ personal struggles and the family’s inability to relate are timeless themes, the dated circumstances and language can confound a younger audience. Fortunately, while director Alex Lanham kept the language and story original, he was able to draw focus to the personal journeys allowing for the heart of the story to be communicated without difficulty. The action is set in the south of America on a cotton plantation. A wealthy family led by Big Daddy are celebrating his 65th birthday. It’s the knowledge of all but Big Daddy and Big Mama that he is dying of cancer. Some family members want to impress to try and increase their chances of inheritance, while others want to forget. Favourite son Brick is not coping with the recent loss of his best friend Skipper, and has turned to alcohol to the detriment of his relationship with wife Maggie. Maggie is desperate for a re-connection and Big Daddy also seeks a deeper bond with his beloved son. It’s an intense and rocky ride as family members try to communicate to help themselves as well as each other. Dominique Mutch stole the show as the bold Maggie. She was seductive, intelligent and tricky. Her contact with Brick was irritated yet sensitive. Unfortunately her counterpart Alex Comben failed to impress. Initially I thought the absence of a sincere depth to the central character Brick would be damaging to the whole show, but luckily his performance was overshadowed by the strong cast around him. While Comben still carried an amount of believable shame and frustration with him, he didn’t go the whole way for me – and seemed too boy like. Big Daddy was played wonderfully by William Davies. He particularly carried the critical emotional scene between him and Brick with sentiment and backbone. Meredith Sinclair as Mae gave another strong performance as the wicked sister-in-law who bears undisciplined children by the many and seeks fortune for herself from the family’s riches. Liam Gillespie had a quiet yet powerful presence as Skipper and Adrienne Morgan made a mark as the boisterous mother hen, Big Mama. The set by Richard Hunt was adorned with elegance and expensive taste. Brick and Maggie’s bedroom was the perfect setting for the family’s interactions. The luxurious furniture and interior decoration was met nicely by French doors that led out on to a balcony. Costumes by Sacha Scofield were high quality and very fitting for the times and the characters’ personalities. It was my first time seeing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and I recommend it as great introduction to the play for anyone that has not yet experienced it. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is showing until the 4th of September Bookings at www.artstheatre.com.au