A TENNESSEE WILLIAMS KIND OF NIGHT AT ANTAEUS
REVIEW: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
BY RYAN LUÉVANO
An exciting time for Antaeus Theatre Company also proves a favorable boon for the Los Angeles theater community. The theatre company, once located in North Hollywood, has recently moved into a new custom space in Glendale, and has opened a thrilling revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The new space boasts a large lobby, an 80-seat theatre, a 45-seat “black box” theatre, and a beautiful library full of scripts and theater related material. And their revival of the Tennessee Williams classic will sweep audiences away with its remarkably poignant and fresh presentation.
Upon entering the theatre, watch your step as wood chips spill onto the floor in front of the stage. And when you look up to see the stage you’ll see Steven C. Kemp’s dreamy set, an optical illusion making the room seem askew. The set fully embodies the fractured and topsy-turvy relationships living within this play with its long slanted window frames and severely buckled hardwood floors.
Throughout the play, we are always reminded that Big Daddy’s house has ears and dimension greater than the stage. Whenever important conversations are had, audiences are fully aware that family members are listening outside the imaginary doors. This highlights anything that’s being said on stage and adds context to the living arrangement. Additionally, by the use of ambient sound effects: clock chimes, dogs barking, fire works, and workers singing in the fields, we feel the expanse of being in the house on Big Daddy’s giant estate.
Director Cameron Watson has pulled out all the humanity, passion and grit from this work leaving behind anything that feels hackneyed or stale. With Watson’s vision of the all the sensory elements and the intriguing take on the characters, it’s a piece of theater fit for contemporary audiences. One notable variation is casting an Asian American, Linda Park, in the role of Maggie (“the cat”). With special permission from the Tennessee Williams Estate, this opportunity not only falls in line with today’s progressive casting but also adds a new layer to Maggie’s story as audiences are left to ponder her place in the Mississippi Delta.
Park is splendid in this role; her monologue in the first act is immediately captivating—a fine blend of vulnerability and a ranting wife. In the final two acts, Park’s demeanor changes as she respects her place within the family dynamic; her restraint is honest and never belabored. Big Daddy, played by seasoned improv comedy actor Mike McShane, is powerful as can be. Together Watson and McShane have brought out the heart in this well-known character. Yes, Big Dadday is still the nasty rich Mississippi redneck, but he’s also a man who believes he’s beat death and has come to some important realizations about the true value of money. McShane take us there—his character’s epiphany, also provokes a spark that implores audiences to heed his advice before it’s too late.
The favorite son, repressed homosexual, turned alcoholic Brick (Daniel Bess) is on stage for all of the play yet has only a handful of lines. Bess has one of the most challenging roles of all, yet he’s able to remain stoic while taking in everything that is happening around him—raw, and compelling.
Glendale has gained an eminent new theatre company for its community, and L.A. audiences have much to gain from Antaeus’ hot-blooded revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Performances: March 23 – May 7
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: March 16 (preview), 23 (opening), 30; April 6, 13, 20, 27; May 4
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: April 7, 14, 21, 28; May 5
• Saturdays at 2 p.m.: April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; May 6 (no 2 p.m. perf. on March 18 or March 25)
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; May 6
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; May 7
Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(between N. Brand Blvd. and Maryland Ave.)