Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cloud 9

Cloud 9
The Seeing Place Theatre
The Access Theater Space
July 3, 2017
Photo courtesy of The Seeing Place Theatre
Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 is getting a fresh look with The Seeing Place Theatre.  This complex sexual farce explores sexual identity, family structure, and the effects of repression over a one hundred year span (1880 – 1980).  The strengths of the concept of co-directors Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican are the clarity in the parallels of the relationships and the straight forwardness of the style.

Act I takes us to a British Colony in Africa in1880.  Clive (played by Brandon Walker) is the protector of her Majesty’s domain and patron to his seemingly close knit family.  His wife Betty (played by Ari Veach) is in love with their family friend Harry (played by Robin Friend Stift), even though he is secretly attracted to men.  Besides, Clive is sneaking around with their widowed neighbor, Mrs. Saunders (played by Jane Kahler), and the governess, Ellen (also played by Jane Kahler) has a passionate crush on Betty.  To make it more intriguing, many of the female roles are played by men, and vice versa.  The first act ends violently, which should be expected when clear cut gender roles are disguised and turned upside down under Victorian repression.

The cast of Cloud 9
Photo courtesy of Russ Rowland
Act II takes place in 1980 England.  The sexuality of the characters is more openly explored, yet the Victorian roots of the characters make them doubt their choices and question their resistance to the expectations of their gender roles.  The underlying violence is ever present, and keeping their true selves under wraps is still a necessity.

Brandon Walker & Eriin Cronican
Photo courtesy of Russ Rowland
The Seeing Place Theatre is getting very well known for their strong ensemble and bold production choices.  This very challenging play unfolds moment by moment due to the company’s skillful approach.  They have a sharp focus on the value of the message in Ms. Churchill’s writing, and make is accessible and relevant to a diverse present day audience.  There are very impressive performances by Jane Kahler, Erin Cronican, Brandon Walker, Bill McAndrews, Sabrina Schlegel-Mejia, Robin Friend Stift, and Ari Veach.

The Seeing Place Theatre production of Cloud 9 is playing at the Access Theater space on 380 Broadway (4th floor).  Tickets are only $15.  Check their website for tickets and directions.  It is a limited run through July 16.

Domenick Danza

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