Review "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof": More like a Kitten in a Tree

Raven Theatre presents
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF

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At 6157 N. Clark
Written by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Michael Menendian
Thursdays, Friday, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru December 19th
Buy Tickets
Running Time:  Two and a half hours includes two ten minute intermissions

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

Mendacity has hit the fan at the Pollitts, the only way to avoid 'stepping in it' is dancing around the subject or drinking until the click turns it off. Raven Theatre presents CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, the classic Southern drama by Tennessee Williams.  It's Big Daddy's birthday and everybody wants a piece of his cake.  But who deserves the biggest slice?  Should he give it to his son Grouper and his pregnant wife Mae and their five no-neck monsters?  Everyone knows Mae would do anything for cake.   Or his drunken mess of a son Brick and his wife Maggie with the enormous... sweet teeth?  But why worry about divvying up the dessert now?  There will be another birthday cake next year.  Or will there be?  Unraveled secrets have the family toying with the meaty stuff to get to their share of the final course.     Suicide, homosexuality, cancer, alcoholism, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF has all the ingredients for a hearty helping of substance.
 

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Under the direction of Michael Menedian, the main course is a few degrees short of hot.  In the first act, which is more of a monologue, Liz Fletcher (Maggie) hits all the notes but doesn't quite sing.  Fletcher is not only competing with Mae but also the iconic film performance of Elizabeth Taylor.  She can easily take Sister Woman but the other Liz haunts the stage like Skipper's ghost.  Interacting with the ensemble in the other two acts, Fletcher's catty sniping is timely engaged perfection.   Jason Huysman (Brick) drinks through the first act without really clicking.  His poignant moments come in Act 2 when Huysman interacts with Big Daddy (Jon Steinhagen).  There is a genuine intimacy between Huysman and Steinhagen.  Their loving sadness permeates the unspoken secrets between them.  Steinhagen is not quite the larger-than-life figure he portrays sans the weight and years.  Eleanor Katz (Mae) is amusing as an eavesdropping, manipulative, pious Sister Woman.  As an outstanding secondary character JoAnn Montemurro (Big Momma) is running around, literally, with sweet willful obtuseness.   Montemurro is a delightful combination of needy and strong.

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Tennessee Williams wrote about family dysfunction before it was vogue.  The 1955 Pulitzer Prize award-winning production transcends a half of a century with relatable relationship drama.   Raven Theatre's CAT ON A TIN ROOF may not be the sizzling, award-winning CAT from childhood memory.  The declawed intensity is more like a kitten in a tree.  Sure, it's not as dramatic but it stills purrs along with life like a favorite pet.             

Never a fan of mendacity, Bill's three-word comment is "get the movie."

Production photography provided courtesy of Dean LaPrairie.

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