Pin It
The play's themes of repressed homosexuality in the Deep South, already inflammatory upon its 1955 premiere, seem all the more pointed and poignant so soon after the passing of Amendment 1.

Themes of repressed homosexuality in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 

Rob Rainbolt as Brick and Sarah Bousquet as Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

Photo by Stephen J. Larson

Rob Rainbolt as Brick and Sarah Bousquet as Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

It's a bit of fortuitous timing to have Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof produced in the Triangle so soon after the passing of Amendment 1. The play's themes of repressed homosexuality in the Deep South, already inflammatory upon its 1955 premiere, seem all the more pointed and poignant in the modern day.

Theatre in the Park's production, directed by Ira David Wood IV, offers a particular showcase for Rob Rainbolt as the unhappy Brick, the ex-football player reliant on both a literal crutch and the booze he's constantly swilling (the two intermissions might be to give the poor man a chance to go to the bathroom). He's all seething frustration throughout the first act before he explodes at his hot-to-trot wife Maggie the Cat (Sarah Bousquet), then heartbreaking as he confesses the reason for his boozing and impotence to Big Daddy (John T. "Jack" Hall) in the second act.

Hall avoids the larger-than-life accent that has given birth to many a Big Daddy parody in film and TV, instead playing toward the character's new lease on life and understanding of Brick's confusion. There's also strong work from Bousquet as Maggie, and fine performances from the ensemble (including the adorable young actors Annabel Bloom and Noah Daniel Zevin, as the cowboys-and-Indians-playing children).

Though Cat on a Hot Tin Roof can be a bit exhausting, in terms of both its emotional content and its length (the play runs about three hours with the two intermissions), it wrests plenty of power from Williams' writing. The strongest passages come from the second of the play's three acts, when Brick and Big Daddy have their confrontation. Here's a scene that's about a son confessing his anger, fear and disgust that he might have homosexual inclinations, and a father who's the product of a famously conservative era reacting with understanding, a sequence that's in some ways still ahead of its time in both its attitudes and its use of the conservative South as a metaphor for hypocrisy. "Pow'ful mendacity" indeed.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Burning up."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater

More by Zack Smith

Facebook Activity

Twitter Activity

Comments

Characters with weaknesses are frequent in theater; they fund most if not all of the great dramas, and it takes …

by Byron Woods on The Lion in Winter at Theatre in the Park (Theater)

Mr. Brown should be advised that I have actually seen -- and signed -- my full share of production contracts …

by Byron Woods on Victorian women explore the future in On the Verge (Theater)

Most Read

© 2014 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation