Review On Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Travis Michael Holder

Travis Michael Holder

Writer, Registered Critic


What could be a better choice to inaugurate Antaeus Theatre's sparkling new two-theater complex than Tennessee Williams' masterwork Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, especially directed by Cameron Watson, who has envisioned an amazing retelling of the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. And if there is any reason not to miss this exceptional revival, it is the indelibly memorable work of Harry Groener and Dawn Didawick as dying Pollitt patriarch Big Daddy and his long-suffering spouse Big Mama that is the heart of this production. This real-life man-and-wife team could become recognized as the millennium's west coast Lunt and Fontaine or Cronyn and Tandy from their turns in these difficult roles. Nowhere in Williams' prolific stable of screwed-up characters, is there a role with such insurmountable acting traps written into it as Big Daddy. Anyone playing this role seems to fall headfirst into the rhythms and natural bigness of Burl Ives, who undoubtedly will be forevermore identified with the character. Still, instead of shouting gruffly and chomping on a huge cigar, the not-so-big Groener starts so gently and unobtrusively that when his rage emerges, his performance is revelatory. Hats off to a brilliant actor and his equally brilliant director for reinventing Big Daddy Pollitt anew. It's a humbling honor to see such fine work unfold live right before one's eyes.