Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Round House Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule


Gregory Wooddell and Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan
Photo by Cheyenne Michaels
Director Mitchell Hébert understands how to mold a group of actors into an ensemble while also letting the performers shine as individuals. With his triumphant and surprisingly funny production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hébert returns to Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, where his production of Glengarry Glen Ross a few years ago earned him a Helen Hayes Award for outstanding direction of a play.

Tennessee Williams received the Pulitzer Prize for his 1955 play about greed, frustration, and the search for truth in a world of lies, and the play has always been popular. The most notable thing about this production is the way Hébert has guided his actors to convey the contradictions and self-deceptions of their characters without ever slipping into caricature.

Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan plays Maggie the Cat more outwardly bitter and less seductive than one might expect. It's a defensible interpretation: Maggie married Brick (Gregory Wooddell, very good as a man hiding from himself) looking for fulfillment and not finding it; he has withdrawn into drinking and blames Maggie for the death of his best friend (or was he more than that?).

As Big Daddy, the plantation owner determined to live fully before it's too late, Rick Foucheux gives another finely crafted performance. He ingratiates himself with the audience through bluster and exasperated humor that builds in intensity until he reaches a peak of righteous fury; fight choreographer John Gurski has staged a thrilling battle scene between Brick and Big Daddy. Sarah Marshall is a delightfully crass Big Momma, scattered and almost pixyish as she tries to make sense of her family's battles over money and love.

Marni Penning also stands out as Brick's sanctimonious sister-in-law Mae, wearing a hideous, bilious green maternity dress (costumes designed by Ivania Stack) as three of her "no-neck monsters" run wild through the house. Todd Scofield is fine in the less flashy role of her husband Gooper, the boring, responsible brother who can never step out of Brick's shadow.

Scenic designer Meghan Raham has packed amazing detail into a single room, from the tall drapes and louvered doors facing the balcony to the clutter on Maggie's dressing table and the brocade fabric on the downstage settee.

Round House Theatre
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
March 30th - April 24th
By Tennessee Williams
Maggie: Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan
Brick: Gregory Wooddell
Mae: Marni Penning
Gooper: Todd Scofield
Big Daddy: Rick Foucheux
Big Momma: Sarah Marshall
Reverend Tooker: Tom Truss
Dr. Baugh: Stephen Patrick Martin
No Neck Monsters: Griffin McCahill, Caroline Rilette, Mia Rilette (Blue Cast); Grace Doughty, Larisa Jeffers, Evan Wilson (Green Cast)
Household Staff: Christopher Michael Richardson
Directed by Mitchell Hébert
4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD
Box office: 240-644-1100 or www.roundhousetheatre.org


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