An openly dysfunctional and inheritance-obsessed family
visits the old plantation home of patriarch Big Daddy Pollitt on his
birthday after they have discovered he is dying of cancer.
In the first act, Maggie, played by Rachel Combs,
talks at length to Brick, her hunky, boozed up husband, who is played by
Radulf Steiert. Brick is mourning the loss of his best friend Skipper,
who Maggie is certain was more than just a friend to Brick. Steiert as
Brick emanates a sensual and quiet sort of oblivion as he continuously
drinks while limping on a crutch back and forth across the stage in his
attempts to avoid Maggie’s smothering affections. Combs’ love-starved
and formerly lower-class Maggie the Cat gives an impassively endless
monologue about a relationship devoid of lovemaking and the lack of
children she wants in order to secure her place in Big Daddy’s family
fortune, candidly uttering the famous line about feeling like “a cat on
a hot tin roof.”
In the second act Big Daddy, played skillfully by Jim
Lane, gives a fiery and irreverent diatribe to the seemingly indifferent
Brick about love, women, sex and money. Lane provocatively delivers Big
Daddy’s revelation that mendacity is everywhere and money is a comfort
but it cannot buy back your health or immortality. At one point, Big
Daddy cannot seem to get through to the apathetic Brick, so he startles
him up by pulling his crutch out from under him.
In the third act the whole family is gathered together
to celebrate Big Daddy’s birthday with gifts and a big cake. Brick’s
brother Gooper, played by Connor Hunt, and Mae, his wife, played by
Justine Freschi, are experts at deviously cajoling Big Daddy and Big
Mama. Their three bratty children, played by Famke Steiert, Sofia Paez
and Tyler Langdon, run in and out during the play, yelling, screaming,
pointing play guns and annoying Maggie, who calls them “no-neck
monsters.” At one point, the kids redeem themselves by entertaining the
family with a funny little song. Big Mama, played comically in a clever
fatsuit by Celeste Mazon, repeatedly tries to appease Big Daddy in her
efforts to keep the family together. The Reverend Tooker, played by
Chris Giacomelli, and Doctor Byfield, played by Joshua Byfield, are
respectably droll as the ever-present sycophants of the Pollitts.
Offstage voices and singers add a mystical Southern quality to the
drama, while sound and lighting effects punctuate much of the dialogue.
Props and scenery also have a delightful authenticity, as well as the
sensitive direction of Scott Adams.
Although this play, like most of Tennessee Williams’
other works, is filled with dispirited and dark themes, the cast did a
commendable job of conveying that we’re all humorously flawed humans,
often competing for love and money, and never having nearly enough.