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Virtual High School frequently supports arts and athletic events in and around Bayfield where the school is located. With our recent sponsorship of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, put on by The Livery Theatre in Goderich, we wanted to provide a review of the production. We sent English Department Head, John Smallwood, for the experience. He provides the following review:

livery4The play, directed by Garry LaRose and produced by VHS’s Caitlin Carr, succeeds unequivocally, due in large part to LaRose’s intelligent, restrained interpretation of this always compelling play, one that won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955. Lisa Hood, a former VHS teacher, excels as the anguished Maggie, and Lily King, who has appeared in VHS videos, has a cameo role as the young Dixie.

Maggie’s husband Brick, a one-time athlete and frustrated son of Big Daddy is on crutches, one for a broken ankle, the other, his own alcoholism, as he tries unsuccessfully, to deal with questions of his own sexual orientation, his place in the family, and his relationship with the tortured Maggie.

The three-act play examines the role of women in the 1950s, on the eve of the feminist movement. Maggie is frustrated, not only with her marriage but also with the fact that she is childless, the premium in this family being on creating a legacy for the family. The second act deals with questions of male identity. Big Daddy’s cancer serves as a metaphor for the disease within the family and within his own values as he shows with relentless misogyny, bullying, and misunderstanding that material and personal success are not the same thing.

The set, which realistically represents a 50s home, is backlit by a scrim of trees, the lighting effectively illustrating the time of day. This bucolic backdrop is undercut by the static lighting of the main acting area and action downstage where characters barely tolerate one another as long as distance exists between them. The closer actors are to each other physically the more conflicted they become. Big Daddy, convincingly played by Brian Makcrow, feuds non-stop with everyone but never more so than when he stands face-to-face battling against the very people who can help him retain some sense of self-worth. Audiences will find a moving treatment of power, disaffection, and mendacity in Williams’ timeless play.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs March 1, 2, and 3 at 8:00 pm at the Livery Theatre in Goderich, Ontario. Purchase tickets here.

DID YOU KNOW? Virtual High School offers ADA4M, grade 12 mixed level drama!