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Cat Goes Cold on Hot Tin Roof

2009 July 2
Daniel Thomas May and Courtney Patterson

Daniel Thomas May and Courtney Patterson

Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is a wave of heat. Scorching summer temperatures, seduction, “mendacity,” and fights between in-laws for Big Daddy’s inheritance of his 28,000-acre Mississippi plantation and estate home cause many a burn. But the production at Georgia Shakespeare is a little cool.

It’s the late 1950s, and Maggie and her husband, Brick (Daniel Thomas May), are visiting his parents’ home, sleeping in their luxurious guest bedroom, which has no air conditioning. Maggie, a searing siren with a burning sex drive for her gorgeous husband, tries to seduce him so she can have a baby, prompting Big Daddy to leave them lots of money when he dies. Brick—who likely is homosexual—can’t stand the sight or sound of her, and hasn’t slept with her for some unnamed time since his “best friend” Skipper died. Maggie had an affair with Skipper before he died, in order to break up the close relationship between to the two men. Maggie tells Brick he used to be a wonderful lover and she wants him back.

But at Georgia Shakespeare, the heat is missing. Maggie seems to have little connection to Brick. In the bedroom with the man she’s crazy about, Maggie seems to talk to no one, not even herself. As Maggie, Courtney Patterson goes through the motions, but she often misses the feeling underneath. Even when she unbuttons Brick’s shirt and lays her hand on his stomach to attempt to seduce him into making love with her, she does it mechanically rather than seductively. What’s worse is last Friday I and three couples sitting near me in the middle of the theater could often not even hear her. And sometimes she spoke so rapidly running words together, that when she was audible (which was most of the time), her words couldn’t be understood. Two of the couples said they had seen her in other productions, and that she was wonderful, so there is hope this production could improve.

All is not bad. Scenic designer Kat Conley has created a vision of opulence with a bedroom that overlooks a terrace and features a beautiful four poster bed, floor-to-ceiling draperies, a crystal chandelier, and a large sitting area that showcases the home of the richest man in Mississippi. Big Daddy (Tim McDonough) and Big Mamma (Megan McFarland) give fine performances.

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