Jealousy and Sex in the South

Tennessee Williams’ famous 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” opened in the Humanities Hall Little Theater this past Saturday.

The theme for the Department of Drama this year is “Love, Lust, Greed” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” deals with all three aspects of the theme in a very balanced manner.

The play takes place in the Pollitt Mississippi plantation home, one summer evening in 1955 on Big Daddy’s 65th birthday. His entire family is gathered to celebrate, knowing that this birthday is going to be his last one as he has been diagnosed with cancer.

The story revolves around the family’s attempts to reveal to Big Daddy (Robin T. Buck) and Big Mama (Luzma Ortiz) that Big Daddy is to die soon; the play also details the family’s struggle to take control of the plantation after his death.

The play opens with Maggie (Samantha Aneson) complaining to her husband Brick (Kevin Shewey) about how his brother Gooper (Craig Brauner) and wife, Mae (Kelsey Michelle Jackson) have been showing off their children to Big Daddy, subtly reminding him of their childlessness.

Each act of the play shows the complexities between husband and wife, father and son and between two siblings. It brings out raw emotions like fear, love, lust, greed and deals with the various levels of tension within a family, the stereotypes associated with homosexuality and the greed for property and money.

The play was divided into three acts with a ten minute interval between each act. The play started off very fast-paced and I found it a little hard to follow in the beginning but was able to catch on to the story and keep up.

Having never read nor watched the play before, I found myself looking forward to each act. The play had some explicit content and some violence, too. The language used was initially hard for me to grasp but as the play moves ahead, it is easier to keep up with it.

The actors did a good job of transitioning from one act to the next and kept the momentum of the play and the energy alive. My favorite part of the play was the confrontations that happen throughout the play between Maggie and Brick and Big Daddy and Brick.

The basic things that we deal with in life or try to avoid are particular in this dialogue from the play said by Brick to Big Daddy: “Well, sir, every so often you say to me, Brick, I want to have a talk with you, but when we talk, it never materializes. Nothing is said.”

The play is very relatable even in today’s world, as most of the conflicts we deal with come from within one’s family. The play even explores the reasons behind why people lie.

“My approach to this play after doing a lot of research and analysis of what is it about this play and the notion of families, that’s why there are five children in the play, there’s that notion of all the generations,” said director Jane Page. “The play is very much about how the future of a family is decided and this notion of what’s a lie and how do we protect ourselves and each other from the lies in the culture,”

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is playing at the Humanities Hall Little Theater on Dec. 11 and 12 at 8 p.m., Dec. 13 at both 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 2 p.m.