Mar 14, 2018

10 Shirtless Bricks from "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was first performed in 1955, won a Pulitzer Prize, and remains a favorite today, in spite of (or maybe because of) its shrill theatricality: a dysfunctional family yelling about its hidden passions and long-ago traumas.

Like most Tennessee Williams plays, same-sex desire is lurking just below the surface, alluded to but never discussed.

And there's a guy with his shirt off:  Brick, son of the dying Big Daddy, an alcoholic ex-footballer who won't sleep with his wife, Maggie (the Cat on the Hot Tin Roof), maybe because he's gay -- he was in love with his old teammate, Skipper, who committed suicide.

In the 1950s, of course, the implication of gayness is a major scandal.  Big Daddy tiptoes around it, but Maggie shrieks it out.

The 1958 movie closeted Brick and Skipper even more: "I told him he was weak!" Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) shrieks.

But Paul Newman as Brick famously walked around in pajama bottoms, leading most contemporary productions to give us shirtless Bricks.

1. Top photo: Max Falls at Utah State.  Even closeted, Cat is quite a heady mix for Utah.

2. Benjamin Walker in Pittsburgh shows us some Brick abs.

3.The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company surprisingly gives us bald, middle-aged Brick with a little belly.  But that's how he's written, right?

4.  Jonathan Shirey at the Susquehanna Stage Company. An ex-athlete?  He's got a bodybuilder's physique!

5.  Chapter, a multi-art cultural space in Cardiff, Wales, gives us a rather slim Brick.

More after the break

6. In the National Theater Company production, Jack O'Connell gets completely naked on stage and takes a shower.

7.  Buffalo, New York.  For once Brick is wearing a normal-looking towel.

8. The Barn Theater of Montville, New Jersey decided to closet Brick's chest as well as his sexuality.

9. Daniel Bess at the Antaeus Theater in Glendale.

10.  The only nonwhite Brick I found was Terrence Howard in the new Broadway revival.  He keeps his bathrobe on.

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