Katreeva Phillips as Maggie and Christian Schmoker as Brick in&nbsp;<em>Cat on a Hot Tin Roof</em>&nbsp;at Stolen Shakespeare Guild

Review: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof | Stolen Shakespeare Guild | Hardy and Betty Sanders Theatre

Roof Proof

Stolen Shakespeare Guild continues its Pulitzer series with Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

published Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Photo: Walter Betts
Katreeva Phillips as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Stolen Shakespeare Guild

Fort Worth — Tennessee Williams’ ability to put so much complexity into a seemingly simple story is what made him one of the greatest playwrights to ever live. Among his numerous great works, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, produced by Stolen Shakespeare Guild, stands out as both his favorite and arguably his best, a distinction which SSG affirms in their capable production.

The Pollitt family has gathered for the birthday of the family patriarch, Big Daddy (Kit Hussey). Big Daddy’s favorite son Brick (Christian Schmoker) limps around on the bedroom set, nursing a broken leg and a glass of whiskey, which he refills liberally. Through interactions with his wife Maggie (Katreeva Phillips) and Big Daddy, along with his mother, Big Mama (Phyllis Clayton-Huaute, brother Gooper (Alex Wade) and his wife Mae (Libby Hawkins), the audience learns that Brick has recently lost his best friend Skipper, who might have been more than a friend, and that Big Daddy is dying of cancer.

Photo: Walter Betts
Christian Schmoker as Brick and Kit Hussey as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Stolen Shakespeare Guild

Williams’ ability to address the grieving process in multiple ways is a fascinating examination of human emotion. Beyond that, his language is entrancing. The play moves almost musically, with a treble and bass clef. The treble is what’s happening on the surface, such as familial tensions and marital problems. The bass represents the simmering undercurrent of commentary on life that Williams was so good at exploring. The depth of the play is staggering.

Director Alex Krus’ cast performs admirably. Maggie and Big Daddy each have a voluminous amount of lines to deliver, both dominating their own nearly full act scenes with Brick. Phillips is affecting as Maggie the Cat. She is frenetic and desperate as she scurries about the bedroom suite whilst plumbing Brick’s psyche about what’s causing him to hide in the bottom of a bottle, and why he won’t crawl out long enough to actually sleep with her. A strong domestic facade laced with passive aggression that makes her all at once maddening and sympathetic.

Hussey’s Big Daddy is interesting in that while he’s a fairly slight man, his shadow does loom big over the family. The Pollitt’s have the most successful cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta area and the question of succession and inheritance is important. However, unaware of his grim diagnosis, the Big Daddy character walks a fine line between mortality and vitality. Hussey is equal to the task. Despite Schmoker being a little bigger than him, his presence overwhelms the room. He’s a larger-than-life figure that suddenly has to deal with not having much of a life left. Granted, a lot of his dealing with it takes place off stage, but Hussey still shines as the passing patriarch.

Schmoker arguably has the most difficult role, because despite being the main character, Brick really doesn’t say much. He’s depressed and prefers to use his mouth for inebriation rather than talking. While Schmoker is fine at shuffling around the room playing sad, there is a lack of that underlying tension. It comes out when he’s forced into a crescendo-ing argument, but otherwise, the tension is difficult to sense.

This isn’t an easy play to stage. True, it’s one set, the bedroom, and takes place in real time, but Williams’ aforementioned depth and composition really have to be understood in order to mount a good production. Krus clearly understands the text and ultimately gets good performances out of his cast. It’s not the greatest production ever, but it’s solid enough to recommend.

Brick drinks until he hears the “click” in his head that makes him more easy-going and approachable. His frustration comes from the seemingly interminable time it’s taking to get there. Luckily for the audience, this play, though long and difficult, goes down easily. No alcoholic motivation necessary. Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Roof Proof
Stolen Shakespeare Guild continues its Pulitzer series with Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
by Kris Noteboom

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :