Tennessee Williams’ classic 1955 play gets a solid, breezy production by the Raven Theatre. Not content to stage a nostalgic Southern melodrama, the production confronts Williams’ themes of personal honesty, sexuality and social mores head-on.
On a sprawling Mississippi plantation, the Pollitt family has gathered for Big Daddy’s sixtieth birthday. Believing this to be his last birthday, his wife and children are determined to make a last impression on him that will secure them a healthy portion of his will. Only Brick doesn’t seem to care, too caught up in his alcoholism, former athletic glory and closeted homosexuality.
Liz Fletcher, as Maggie, and Jon Steinhagen, as Big Daddy, dominate their major scenes in part due to their sheer verbosity, but Jason Huysman’s Brick never really rises to the challenge set by his scene partners. When things get hot, they get really hot, although the climactic storm winds die down a bit too easily. Ultimately it’s a luscious, passionate portrayal of the desperate search for truth. (Neal Ryan Shaw)
Raven Theatre, 6157 North Clark, (773)338-2177. Through December 19.