Williams’ “Cat” pounces into Toledo theater

Sitting in a front row seat on opening night for the famous play from the 1950s titled “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” I was able to gain a first hand look at what made this Tennessee Williams play so successful in its prime.

Tennessee Williams was a southern American playwright, regarded as one of the greatest. Along with writing plays, Williams also wrote works of fiction and movie screenplays.

However, his plays hold the most profound of legacies.

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” tells the story of a large southern family undergoing news of the failing health of the family’s head – known as ‘Big Daddy’. The family goes about hiding and coping with the doctor’s news on Big Daddy’s birthday, all the while dealing with major inner problems at the same time.

One of the sons, Brick, finds himself in a troubling marriage with his wife Maggie. Brick struggles with alcoholism and accusations of homosexual activity in his past, while Maggie longs to bear a child with him with hopes that their marriage will heal and the rest of Brick’s family will be satisfied.

The other family members, with the knowledge of Big Daddy’s death in the nearby future, try their hardest to make themselves look appealing at the birthday celebration so that the wealthy estate’s fortune will be left in their hands.

Director Brad Faust feels as if the issues discussed in this three-act play offer a glimpse into how they have always been around.

“It’s timely in the fact that a lot of these issues are issues that people struggle with all the time, except in the 1950s when they did the movie version of it they couldn’t tell people that these problems really did exist,” he said.

There are bouts of humor here and there when subject matter intensifies, mainly sprouting from the fact that the family is very open. Privacy is the least of their concerns, and the children that play the “five screaming monkeys” make for a nice interlude after witnessing scenes of tough subject matter and dialogue.

As for what college students can get out of this production, Faust thinks that it can relay a positive image of society today.

“I think college students are going to get out of it what anybody else would get out of it, but I think it’s that whole notion of being able to look at a period of time that many college kids and younger students are not familiar with,” he said. “It offers a notion of ‘look how far we really have come.'”

Kate Abu-Absi, the actress that plays the character of Maggie, thinks that the issues discussed in this production are timeless as well.

“It’s all about fear, betrayal, greed and uncertainty in yourself and your sexuality,” she said. “I think that modern audiences can certainly find something to relate to.”

Abu-Absi also found that the cast of actors make the production as successful as it is.

“First and foremost, I think everyone is so professional,” she said. “That’s such a huge thing that everyone is there in rehearsal to work and they’re really respectful of what other people are doing. Everyone has just succeeded in pulling together amazing characters.”

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” will be playing at Toledo Repertoire Theatre’s Tenth Street Stage from Jan. 12 – 28. Tickets are $5 for students with a valid ID and can be purchased by calling (419) 243-9277.