’Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ lands on its feet

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Caught in a web of mendacity, each member of the Pollit family has issues to resolve.

The latest offering of the Community Light Opera and Theatre Association is a study in family dynamics. Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is set in Mississippi in 1955, and portrays the family of wealthy Big Daddy Pollit.

There’s a lot going on here between complex characters. From one angle, you can see the actors have put their hearts into bringing out the many nuances in their characters, thanks to Director Elena Vitale. From another angle, this play feels like a psychology workbook brought to life. Every character has something repressed and bottled-up inside, and the action lets it all out like a pressure-relief valve hissing and finally blowing.

Rich performances were turned in by Anne Schreckengost, playing Maggie, the frustrated wife, and Barbara Burton, playing Big Mama, whose best efforts go unappreciated. “Maggie’s big moment is her announcement at the end. That motivates her the most, due to her past and her childhood, growing up poor,” said Schreckengost.

“My character’s strength,” said Burton, “is that Big Mama loves Big Daddy no matter what—her faith in him never waivers. The third act is such an emotional act. That’s where all those feelings are dealt with —pain, hope, suffering, disappointment, anxiety and struggling to remain a family.”

Steve Slay took command of the stage in his scenes as Big Daddy, roaring his opinions far and wide. “The most important part of the play for Big Daddy is the connection he finally makes with his son,” said Slay.

Greg Shlanta was perfect as the confused, trying-to-be-proper eldest son, Gooper. “They’re taking everything away from him. He’s just looking for justice. Really, the only person who likes me [as Gooper] is my wife, and I’m not even sure about her,” said Shlanta.

Adam Everett surprised with his performance as Brick, the moody, disconnected second son, drinking heavily to blot out his own issues in the face of Maggie’s constant needling, then coming on strong in the last act as he and his father re-connect. “The high point for Brick is the scene with Big Daddy, where I apologize to him at the end, and when I break the news to him,” said Everett. “That motivates Brick. He’s a good character, in a well-written play. He and Big Daddy are like two sides of the same character.”

The remaining performance dates are March 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. at CLOTA’s Center Stage. 1425 N. Inyo St. Call 760- 446-2411 for more information, or see www.ridgecrest-arts.org/CLOTA. Tickets are on sale at Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2013-03-06