Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Attic Playhouse. The repetition for emphasis that marks southern speech has never been more noticeable than in Tennessee Williams’s 1955 classic. And the members of the Pollitt clan have good reason to make their voices heard: patriarch Big Daddy has been diagnosed with cancer, and on this, his 65th birthday, measures must be taken to determine who will inherit the lion’s share of his multimillion-dollar estate.

The characters’ loquacity, coupled with diphthong-laced drawls, can easily stretch the playing time of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to enervating proportions, even in the author’s brisk 1974 adaptation for the American Shakespeare Theatre. But Attic Playhouse director Catherine Davis is less concerned with dutiful replication than with the passion and urgency of this American myth, which has the weight and grandeur of Greek tragedy.

To this end, her cast focuses on the tensions engendered by the denial of truths long concealed–in particular, the number of homosexual liaisons figuring in the family’s history. As the calculating Maggie, Jessica Granger delivers an uncaricatured portrait of a survivor, while Alex Fendrich makes an appropriately petulant Brick. But the show belongs to Bruce Heskett as Big Daddy: though he falls short of the gravity associated with this Caesar-like figure, Heskett’s vitality more than redeems his portrayal.

–Mary Shen Barndige