Cat and Souse

Maggie and Brick try to pull a big one over on Big Daddy at DTC

In front of this powerful scenery, the family circus unfolds, and here is where Hamburger's cast doesn't completely measure up to the grandness of its surroundings. Physically, Rick Stear is too slight to be believably Brick-like. He's shorter and less visibly muscular than Lorca Simons' Maggie (or maybe that's the impression he gives with his slumped-down posture). Stear's Brick is so peripheral, at times he disappears, overwhelmed by a super-frenetic Maggie. Simons, her mouth rouged into a crimson smear, interprets her character as cynical and tough. When she spits out the line "We don't live together—we occupy the same cage," she's a Maggie who's less purring sex kitten and more hissing jungle cat. Hamburger even has Brick in lion tamer mode, fending off an advancing Maggie with an upraised chair.

The performances that keep this Cat hopping are Matthews' Big Daddy and Kennedy's Big Mama. They are a perfect match, the only two actors who truly own and command their roles in the play. Even leaning into the comedy more than some actors would (Burl Ives was scary-serious in the 1958 movie version), Matthews carries Big Daddy as a proud, loving man desperately trying to hang onto life while enduring physical agony. If he chooses to believe Maggie's fable about a baby coming, it's because facing any more truth, at least on this night, would be unbearable. It's Big Daddy's party and he'll lie if he wants to.

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