Regional Reviews: San Francisco
A Sizzling Production of Tennessee Williams'
I have seen many productions of this drama, from the original production at the Morosco Theatre to an American Theater production several years ago. This production is just as good as the others I have seen.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is about one of the South's most dysfunctional families. The drama is charged with verbal brilliances, savage humor and sexual tension. It's a hot-blooded portrait of a Mississippi family run by the striking and bombastic Big Daddy. The family is exposed by artificiality and hidden desires.
Maggie, the Cat, is one of Tennessee Williams' most outrageously arrogant creations. She is go-getting, lubricious, sex-starved and ovulating. Jennifer Welch inhibits all the feelings of Maggie in an intense tour de force of acting. She has an Elizabeth Taylor hairstyle, giving the audience the impression of the legendary movie star.
As Brick, Peter Townley beautifully under acts in the first act, as the sexy Maggie bounces tauntingly around, yelling and screaming at Brick since he has no desire for sex with her. He gets his chance to shine in the second act with his confrontation with Big Daddy and is dynamic in the showdown of why he has become an alcoholic.
Christian Phillips gives a brilliant performance as Big Daddy. He commands the stage as if he owns it with his magnificent performance in the second act. He portrays a certain neediness in the character, even when he is being imposing and brutal.
Carole Robinson is excellent as Big Mama. She is touching and pathetic as the wife of Big Daddy. More than holding their own are April Green as money-minded sister-in-law Mae and Brandon Mears as Gooper, the devious husband and older son of Big Daddy. Francis Serpa as Reverend Tooker, Randy Hurst as Doctor Baugh, Tassiana Willis as Sookey, and Miles Bernson as Buster give good performances in small roles in the third act.
Directors Christian Haines and James Baldock have made this production a successful over the top melodrama. Alicia Griffiths' set shows the richness of Maggie and Brick's bedroom and the living room set of the second and third act. Lighting design by Andrea Schwartz gives the appearance of a steamy night in Mississippi. Costumes by James Baldock are excellent period '50s outfits.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof plays through September 6th, 2014, at the Tides Theatre, 2nd Floor, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-399-1322 or visit www.tidestheatre.org.