Play Review: KCRep’s ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’

Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” directed by Lisa Rothe for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre (KCRep), will have you on a rollercoaster of emotions thanks to its dynamic characters. 

The play focuses on the failing relationship of Brick Pollitt (Nathan Darrow) and his wife, Maggie (Vanessa Severo), as they celebrate the life of a family member and mourn the loss of a friend. 

The show starts off with a conversation between the two that sets the tone for their relationship. 

Severo does a stellar job portraying Maggie, a spunky character that had the audience chuckling within the first 10 minutes. 

While Severo has the audience’s attention most of the time, Darrow’s actions shouldn’t be ignored. 

Throughout the play, Brick drinks multiple glasses of alcohol. As he drinks, his words begin to slur and his actions become slower and more dragged out. Alcoholism is a notable theme throughout the show. The back wall of the set is shelves filled with rows of bottles. The bottles get emptier the higher up you go. 

While the show mostly takes place in the master bedroom of the Pollitt family’s plantation, many members of the family are introduced as they come through and interrupt the couple. 

It is a terrible occurrence for the couple that is trying to have a private and serious conversation, but great for the audience who wants to see more characters. 

We are introduced to Brick’s parents, Big Mama (Merle Moores) and Big Daddy (Paul Vincent O’Connor). The two contrast each other as much as the main couple does. Big Mama is very expressive about her love for her family members, while Big Daddy is more of a “tough love” kind of parent. 

Moores makes the audience feel at home. Her acting truly feels like a mother with welcoming arms. She changes the mood of the scene each time she walks on set, lifting it to a brighter place. 

The air is full of tension when O’Connor appears on stage. You can feel the heat between Big Daddy and Brick as they discuss issues they have bottled inside one another. The words and actions of each character feel so real, it’s almost as if you’re the Pollitt’s next-door neighbor and can’t help but overhear the family drama. 

A lot is said between the characters that is later revealed to be important plot points. Audience members are on the edge of their seats listening in for more, waiting for some type of resolution for the show’s problem. 

But that’s one thing the show didn’t seem to execute properly, a resolution. We get all the proper points for a storyline except for that. 

While this may bother some people, doing this makes it seem like the Pollitt family’s story isn’t over. Maybe there isn’t a solution to the problems the family seems to have. Or, perhaps it’s up to your own interpretation whether or not they live happily ever after. 

You’ll just have to see it for yourself to form your own opinion. 

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is a performance that you don’t want to miss out on. With its outstanding cast and beautiful set design, how could you say no? 

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is showing at the KCRep’s Spencer Theatre until Sept. 29. 

acqn3@mail.umkc.edu

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