No straight-washing here

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

<i>Cat on a Hot Tin Roof</i>: The white robe is a dead giveaway.<i></i>

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: The white robe is a dead giveaway.

Rated 5.0

The Lambda Players take the most traditional of all approaches to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof—they return to Tennessee Williams’ original script, complete with its less-than-subtextual references to homosexuality. Snipped a bit for Broadway, then straight-washed for the famous film version, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof takes place entirely in the bed-sitting room of a plantation founded by a pair of gay men, taken over after their deaths by their hardworking overseer.

The heart of the play—if it can be said to have a heart, with love snubbed right and left throughout—is in the relationships of the Pollitt family. Big Daddy, the redneck overseer transformed through sweat into the owner of “28,000 acres of the most fertile land this side of the Nile Delta,” is dying of cancer. His favored son, Brick, has degenerated from being a football star to a drunk, while daughter-in-law Maggie the Cat is scheming both to win back Brick’s love and make sure he doesn’t lose the family fortune to his more stable and staid brother, Gooper (Sean Williams).

As Maggie the Cat, Angela Thompson gives a visceral performance. She’s no shrinking violet, and she carries the first act. As Brick, Russell Marsh gives a restrained performance which manifests the character’s surrender to apathy. Michael Flood’s Big Daddy carries all the working-class hubris and earthy joie de vivre that could be hoped for, as well as a palpable grief at his own mortality.

But even the supporting roles are well-filled, as Cathy Rasmussen gives Big Mama more depth and heart than the flibbertigibbet role requires, adding pathos to her unrequited love for her husband. Noemi C. Rios, who has a habit of stealing scenes in Lambda productions, keeps her streak intact; her wily, grasping Mae is exactly the sort of daughter-in-law rich folks would be well-advised to avoid. Gooper, the overlooked older brother, shows disgust at his family’s dynamic, which is far more telling than a display of rage.

With only two performances left, this “definitive” production of an iconic American play is a must-see.