At the end of this Tennessee William's play about family relations you feel as if there is no hope at all and then the end leaves you with a little glimmer. Maybe not all is lost…
All the inherent difficulties in staging a classic play that has been done over and over for decades and loved by millions were met head on and with great vigor by those involved with this production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Director Greg Kramer and his very talented all-Canadian cast added some new twists to this timeless American classic of the theatre but kept enough of its beautiful (though sad) spirit to remind us why we all loved it in the first place.
The story of the wealthy Big Daddy (Barry Flatman) and his Southern family is one many of us can relate to. He finds out that he has a terminal form of cancer right around his birthday so the celebrations go on with a definite pall over them. The tension of the situation is not helped by the fact that his two offspring, alcoholic ex-athlete son Brick (Todd Sandormirsky) and the father of many Cooper, are circling around him like vultures to pick at a carcass that is not even expired yet. There is plenty of bickering and not just over the property and who will get what but Brick and his wife Maggie (Severn Thompson) are on the outs as well. Big Mama (Sharon Bakker) is left to try and pick up the pieces of her family.
This play is full of juicy, larger-than-life parts that any actor worth his salt would be aching to do. The character of Maggie is the "Cat" referenced in the title and she spends most of the time trying to get her husband in bed because a woman has needs and she needs to have a child so her stake of the Big Daddy fortune is secured. The part of Maggie is that of a sexy temptress and Severn Thompson was certainly up to the task. Her performance was very strong. But even a blind man could see that the play belongs to Barry Flatman as Big Daddy. He has the character dead in his sights he is so bang on. All eyes are on him every second he is on stage. The role of Brick is a tricky one as it has to be played with all the numbness that self-medicating with alcohol entails. Brick does not want to be reminded of what has gone on in his life he just wants to shut out the cruel world and Maggie is not allowing him to. Some might mistake this for underacting or flatness on Sandormirsky's part but he was just doing what his character called for.
All the emotions (and there are plenty) in the play are of the sharp and pointy variety. There is plenty food for thought in this dense play. So much so that during the 2 intermissions in this over 2 hour play the crowd in the lobby was pretty silent. Probably mulling over in their minds what they had just seen. It is not light stuff here as we examine homosexuality, family relations, alcoholism, infidelity, marriage, and sickness all in a short (and it really does fly by) couple of hours.
The play is never boring and even though it all happens in one house the use of the space was innovative. Actors entered from the audience and performed in the front of the stage. The set was simple, but really conveyed that Southern element. I have to say that the effects for the thunderstorm were very cool. Director Kramer even used the old school technique of starting up scenes again exactly where you left off so when Big Daddy ended in a scream the next scene started with him finishing the scream. It leant to the excellent ebb and flow of the production.
-Venue: 5170 Cote-Ste-Catherine
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MATINÉES: $35, $31, $22
DISCOUNT EVENINGS: Sunday 7PM and Monday 8PM – $35, $31, $22
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REGULAR EVENINGS: Saturday 8:30 PM $44, $40, $22
-Showtimes: Monday – Thursday: 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 1:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:30 p.m.
Sunday: 2:00 + 7:00 p.m.