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Transcript: Connie Meng Review aired Friday, November 16, 2001
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Pendragon Theatre , Saranac Lake, NY. Wednesday, November 14 through Sunday, December 9, 2001.
Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake has opened their annual Fall Classic, a surprisingly good production of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Tennessee Williams. Theory has it that 80% of a director's job is casting, and Director Josephine Good has put together an unusually well balanced cast.
Molly Pietz does a great job as Maggie. The role is a real challenge, since she pretty much has to carry Act I while Brick drinks and sulks. She's a very talented and versatile lady, and her Maggie is as solid and believable as we've come to expect from her previous excellent work at Pendragon.
Bob Pettee delivers a solid performance as Big Daddy, a man who describes himself by saying, "All my life I've been like a clenched up fist." He does an especially wonderful job with the elephant story.
Ralph Petrarca, who did such a nice job as Tartuffe, is quite good as Brick. His emotional portrayal of the character is interesting and complex. However, he needs to work on his broken ankle. Director Good should have caught the fact that he's using his crutch on the wrong side and constantly putting weight on his bad leg, which undercuts the believability of his otherwise solid characterization.
Raina Field gives us a wonderfully whiney bitchy Mae that still manages to be three-dimensional, as is Christopher McGovern's Gooper. This is one of the best things I've seen Mr. McGovern do. He's actually made me feel some sympathy for Gooper - but not too much.
Kimberly Weems plays Big Mama mostly all on one level, but she's appropriately irritating, as are the No-Neck Monsters, Gooper's and Mae's five children. Unfortunately Andrea Iakovidis has staged their little birthday song and dance straight out to the audience. Although it's nice for their parents, this kind of staging belongs in OLIVER, not a Tennessee Williams play.
Bonnie B. Brewer's set is very good. It's semi-realistic and very inventive, with interesting framework pieces set in from the cyc., which allows for some unusual lighting effects. I also liked the fact that it's on a rake, which skews the movement just enough. One small quibble - no one is credited for costumes, (which are fine), but someone needs to take a look at the back of Big Mama's wig.
It's obvious from this production that Josephine Good is not only an excellent actress, but is a good director as well. Even though most of us are familiar with the material, (after all it is a classic), this emotional exploration of one of theatre's more dysfunctional families holds our interest throughout all three acts.
On a scale of one to five, the Pendragon Theatre production of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF gets four and a quarter pine cones. For North Country Public Radio, I'm Connie Meng.