I must confess to a gap in my otherwise sterling theatrical education. I’ve never read or seen Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, although I’m familiar with his other canonical works. Reading the plot summary, it’s clear that Ryan Landry’s drag parody/homage “Pussy on the House” is pretty much a straight (well not “straight”) retelling, with a few more genitalia jokes.
Pussy tells the story of Brick (Eric Lindahal) a depressed drug addict who’s unable to make love to his wife Maggie “the Cat” (Jeremy Myers, looking more like Elizabeth Taylor than any man has a right to) because of painful repression and loss centered around the death of his friend and homosexual lover Skipper. Brick was raised by his biological mother (Ed Jones) and her lesbian lover Big Mama (Honey West). Big Mama is dying and her valuable land, “the largest polyester plantation in the Delta” will soon be up for grabs. Brick’s unscrupulous brother Gooper (Christopher Carpenter) and his wife Mae (David Cerda, Artistic Director of Hell in a Handbag and the Orson Welles of the Chicago drag scene) scheme to seize the entire inheritance for themselves.
This is a cast with some terrific comic timing that manages to sell even some of the weaker jokes, of which there are a few, but for the most part, the show’s very funny. Williams was best known as a tragedian but this is both a comedic and compassionate take on his material. There’s a lot of genuine emotion here mixed in with the silliness, which makes it stronger. “Pussy” is a tale told with wit and warmth.