Tuesday, November 15, 2005

From Sitcom Dad to Big Daddy

I caught a preview performance of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Geffen Playhouse. Running from Nov. 16 - Dec 18, this play is the debut performance for the newly remodeled Geffen. While I can't compare it to the old theater since I never visited, I can say the new theater is quite plush with comfortable seats and plenty of leg room. The stage is large, but the theater feels intimate, and I don't think there's a bad seat in the house. I had not seen this play or the movie version before. While a tad overly long and talky, it's a good show and the actors handle the material capably. Brenda Fricker doesn't have much to do as Big Mama, but John Goodman fills the suit of Big Daddy quite well. I find it hard to get the image of him as Roseanne's hubby out of my head, so I didn't think he mustered quite enough menace to really do the role justice. He got the blustering and the accent right, but his sitcom presence didn't quite translate to the stage. I don't think this is really John's fault - he's a great actor. It's just the curse of being in people's living rooms everyday for perpetuity thanks to reruns. Jeremy Davidson did a good job as the closeted Brick and Jennifer Mudge was suitably smoldering and smothering as his wife Maggie. I tend to prefer realism, and although Tennessee gets the dysfunctional family thing down perfectly, he also makes his characters speak in metaphors and that takes me out of the moment. I mean, when was the last time someone told you, "I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof." It's excellent writing, just not really my cup of sweetened ice tea.

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