(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF By Tennessee Williams Translated by Shlomo Moskovitz Directed by Gilad Kinchi Bet Lessin, April 28 • By HELEN KAYE As the saying goes, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Eran Atzmon’s set for this uneasy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – two sets of tall glass windows – is thus beautifully ironic. Glass affords little privacy either, and the only place that the unlovely characters of Cat can get some is in the small bathroom at stage left, but even there, their faces are projected huge onto a rear screen, as if to say that in our day no real privacy is possible; this is wholly a Cat for our time.
It’s a savage play. Throughout the characters hurl verbal brickbats at one another.
Perhaps that’s why the main male is called Brick (Nimrod Bergman). He has all the subtlety of one. As Bergman excellently and understatedly plays him, Brick is a sulky, self-indulgent, self-absorbed and ridiculously immature alcoholic, seeking to drown his guilt over the suicide of his best friend, Skipper.
Why his platinum-blond wife Maggie (Maya Dayan) – she’s the Cat – still wants him, and she does, is a mystery unless you factor in that the family she’s married into is very rich and she wants a fat share.
The family is gathered at the Pollitt plantation to celebrate Big Daddy’s (Avi Oriah) birthday. Everybody but Big Daddy and his wife, Big Mama (Liat Goren) knows he has terminal cancer. That comes out during the course of the play, as does Brick’s latent and denied homosexuality, brother Gooper’s (Shimron Mimran) unsubtle attempts to wrest control of the family fortune, the obsequious spite of his wife, Mae (Yael Leventhal) and Big Daddy’s own furious frustration and rage at just about everything and everybody.
“That’s what life is, hypocrisy,” he shouts during a fruitless attempt to “have a conversation” with Brick, the son who rejects him.
Hypocrisy, deceit, a refusal to face what is lie at the heart of Cat, and perfuse its characters.
Seeming replaces being. Dayan plays Maggie with febrile intensity, a compulsively chatterbox Maggie who knows she’s lying to herself and everybody else, but is going for broke. Goren’s Big Mama is marvelous; lumbering, unaware, insensitive and terrified.
Oriah’s powerful Big Daddy, no matter what he says or screams, is inarticulate, struggling and, ultimately, painfully pitiful. Good stuff! Leventhal and Mimran make a wonderful and shifty pair, both alert for every nuance, their response ready.
And yet. I said “uneasy” production because it doesn’t quite know where it is, here or in Williams’ deep South. What this Cat lacks is a defined sense of place.