Kick off your summer down south in the Mississippi delta with Theatre in the Park's current production of the seminal American play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Set in a time and place when people had such a thing as a formal bed-sitting room, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is Tennessee Williams' famous work about Brick, his family, and his wife Maggie, as they argue about inheritances, life, death, and liquor. Brick's father, Big Daddy, is dying of cancer, and the family has varied reactions about it – one son's denial, another son's push for legal intervention, and Big Mama's ignorance of the situation altogether. The ways in which they try to resolve their conflict and come to terms with their feelings provides several hours of compelling entertainment.
Stephen J. Larson's immaculate set design set the stage perfectly for this production. The set was light and open, giving the actors plenty of space to move around. I've never actually been to a large southern plantation house, but now I feel like I've had the authentic experience of one. The set was well thought-out, with many points of entry and exit for actors. The action only takes place in the bed-sitting room, but the actors and designers provide the audience with a good sense of what lies beyond that room, of what the rest of the house is like.
The cast is solid – the actors were able to roll with the punches during some technical snafus, and kept the show moving. Under the skilled direction of Ira David Wood IV, the cast brings the deep South to Raleigh. Rob Rainbolt carries the central role of Brick well, and is convincing as Brick continues to get drunker and drunker throughout the evening. I was particularly fond of Brook North as Brick's well-meaning brother Gooper and Erin Tito as Gooper's pregnant wife Mae. Their portrayal of a couple who (rather justifiably) feels they deserve at least a large portion of Big Daddy's 28,000 acres is nuanced and strong. They gave weight and depth to some comparatively minor characters, and made me feel for them.
Thanks to talented set of actors and designers, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a must-see this summer in Raleigh. Theatre in the Park is an indoor venue located in Pullen Park. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs through June 24. For tickets and more information, visit www.theatreinthepark.com.