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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof cast do justice to Williams

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CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF

Written by Tennessee Williams.

Directed by Howard Davies.

Starring Kathleen Turner, Charles

Durning, Polly Holliday, and

Daniel Hugh Kelly.

At the Shubert Theatre through Feb. 25.

By ANDREA LAMBERTI

IT IS A HOT SUMMER NIGHT Kathleen Turner stars as the tempestuous Maggie, and Daniel Hugh Kelly plays her sullen, alcoholic husband Brick, in the production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

currently at the Shubert Theatre. The performance is carried by Big Daddy (Charles Durning), Big Mama (Polly Holliday) and Maggie.

Durning adeptly fills the role of Big Daddy -- a man whose family is greedily anticipating his death from cancer. Big Daddy's booming voice and frank aspect emphasize his intolerance toward his greedy son, Gooper (Ray Gill), and Gooper's wife Mae (Debra Jo Rupp), who are waiting to obtain his wealth.

Holliday (probably best known as Flo on Alice Brick is unabashedly loved by all except his brother Gooper, Mae, and their five "no-necked monster" children. Kelly's restraint as an actor contributes to Brick's aloofness and affected indifference to his family and their "mundacity." Gill and Rupp are successful as the whining in-laws who continually refer to Brick's alcoholism and Maggie's lack of children.

Maggie says in the first act that she is as skittish as a cat on a hot tin roof, nervous and wound up because Brick refuses to sleep with her. Turner bristles in her role, and is well-suited for the feisty Maggie. Her best acting is done in the first act, when the stage is primarily devoted to her and Brick. Turner's performance does not outshine that of the other players, though; the cast and strong direction make for an exceptional show.

When all of the elements of the production come together on stage, the result is much more powerful than from just reading the play. Williams' talent as a playwright shows through with his delicate timing of events. Director Howard Davies beautifully handles the overlapping of events: The children's abrupt entrances on their elders, popping cap guns and screaming into the night; the "fireworks" exploding behind the weeping willow trees and the thunder from the storm; and Big Daddy's moans of pain during Maggie's announcement that she is pregnant. All are evidence of a tight production.