Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Cloud 9"

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entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark


"Cloud 9"


Written by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Ellis S. Jones

Set Coordinator Nana Nakayama
Lighting Design by Erika Kissam
Costume Design by Heather Lennon
Sound Design by Elllis S. Jones
Stage Manager Ken Nero

Betty & Gerry.............................Zachary Lasher
Clive & Edward.........................Patrick J. Zeller
Joshua & Cathy..........................Michael Abdow
Ellen & Lin............................Annette Olszewski
Maud & Bill.............................Heather Marshall
Edward & Victoria..........................Stacy Fischer
Mrs. Saunders & Betty..........SiouxSana Ramirez
Harry & Martin.............................Matt Trumbull


The fluctuating ambiguities in Caryl Rivers' "Cloud 9" are what make the script interesting, and producing it always adds ambiguities as well. Act I pokes holes in the pompous posturings of the English in Colonial Africa in 1880 with broad cartoon-like strokes, while in Act II what seem to be the grown-up characters reappear as Londoners in 1980. In both Acts men play some of the women and vice versa, White plays Black, grownups play children, everyone matter-of-factly leaps into all varieties of sexual pairings, and everything seems real only because people say they're real.

Ellis S. Jones, directing a group from THE OTHER THEATRE at The Actors' Workshop, dug a bit deeper than the "watch me act ridiculous" presentational style the play seems to call for, so that no matter how actions contradicted words, each actor was deadly serious about each contradictory line in turn. And that made the contradictions themselves hilarious, while the sincerity of any spoken line or monolog still had an eerie ring of truth.

That meant tall, shaven-pated Michael Abdow could be a toadying Black house-boy in Act I and throw loud tantrums as a pre-school girl in Act II. Zachary Lasher gave up his dress as a pampered and ineffectual mother for the leathers of a haughty gay predator. Stacy Fischer wore knee-pants as a son who "minds" his little sister's doll, then switched to a working-mother plunging into a menage-a-trois with another woman and her own bi-sexual brother. Whether bald-faced hypocrites upholding the Empire or uninhibited hedonists letting it all hang out, the eight young actors let the reality of each moment collide with the next, and give off sparks. This was an excellent opportunity for scene-stealing and upstaging, but it was ensemble work that really stood out. No one entered or exited the small, square stage without everyone else taking notice.

This was the third production mounted by THE OTHER COMPANY in three weeks --- each prepared separately, each a piece of contemporary theater, each demanding a different approach, all three vibrant with promise. A very good beginning.

Love,
===Anon.
( a k a larry stark)

"Cloud 9" (till 27 July)
THE OTHER THEATRE
Actors' Workshop, 40 Boylston Street, BOSTON
1(617)254-2292

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | CURTAIN | USHER | INTERMISSION |