The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


‘Cat’ provides Southern charm

If you have not yet had the pleasure to be acquainted with Tennessee Williams’s work or have not yet understood why he is one our most celebrated playwrights, then you must go at once to the Dallas Theater Center.

Their production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is a most spectacular, most euphonious ode to the great playwright and his great play. Running through Nov. 5, this is exhilarating drama at its finest.

Known for his grim, Southern gothic dramas, Williams visits similar territory in “Cat.”

The play takes place in 1955 during “Big Daddy’s” birthday but is set in a bedroom of his large plantation. Son Brick and Brick’s wife, Maggie, occupy the sprawling room, and it is a host to their marital problems as well as to the problems of the entire family. Perhaps the undermining decadence in the richly lavished room lures it out of them.

The happy day is tainted with the smothering cloud of hypocrisy. Each character is affected by somebody’s lies, even their own. The truth becomes their undoing.

The unfolding of this family’s unraveling is a fascinating look at society’s claustrophobic dictations that are still prevalent today. Even after more than 50 years since “Cat” was first performed, the issues of alcoholism, homophobia and family hierarchy continue to haunt us all.

The key to making a Tennessee Williams play work hinges on the cast’s ability to speak his distinctively written dialogue. There is a certain flow, a certain lilt in his words. Williams’ beautifully crafted lines sound awkward in the mouths of actors who are not able to locate this particular cadence.

The cast Dallas Theatre Center has assembled is excellent. The ensemble is tight, and each character’s turmoil is evident. Most importantly, the lines roll happily off their tongues and everybody’s deliveries, accent and all, soar.

As the two characters with the most dialogue, Dakin Matthews and Lorca Simons as Big Daddy and Maggie, respectively, exemplify this quality.

During her character’s domination of the first act, Simons is absolutely commanding. With her Southern drawl, there are times when you will almost stop listening to the actual words and are attempted to close your eyes and listen only to her melodic voice.

But it is Matthews who steals the show.

Williams gives Big Daddy the best lines and Matthews deliciously savors every one of them. It almost seems like it is Williams who obliges Matthews, allowing the actor to repeat lines and find new ways to caressingly deliver them.

Combined with his physicality and mannerisms, Matthews’ performance is one of confidence and a kick of relish.

The set design is beautiful. The essence of old Southern royalty is apparent in the spacious, slanted bedroom. The colors are rich and vibrant.

But in between the three acts when the lights are dimmed, you can see the decay that actually surrounds this desperate family.

Director Richard Hamburger uses the tilted room to great effect, placing characters in telling, picturesque locations.

Of course everything comes together for this story of a family coming apart. This is one “Cat” you do not want to miss out on.

More to Discover