Archikulture Digest

Cloud 9

Cloud 9

By Caryl Churchill

Directed by Julia Listengarten

Starring Andy Hansen, John Michael McDonald and Helena Whittaker

Theatre UCF, Orlando, FL</strong>

“How much sex can you get? And how can you use it to make everyone around you unhappy?” might be the central theme of the surreal 1979 Brechtian script by British playwright Caryl Churchill. We begin in darkest Africa circa Queen Victoria. Clive (Hansen) moved his cross gender cast family to Africa. He needs help subduing this brutal continent; ongoing tribal wars are interfering with British industrial capability. His wife Betty (McDonald) looks pretty in pink and won’t say “poop” with a mouthful. She raises the children, purposeful ignores reality and longs for any sort of company. One night two visitors arrive: his horny old explorer buddy Harry (Austin Davis) and the Widow Mrs. Saunders (Victoria Gluchoski.) Harry is willing to shag anything as is the Mrs. but she just knows she needs proper spanking for her sins. After everyone does everyone else, we move to the modern day and while everything is now LGBT polyamorous friendly, we have the same exact situation: everyone is doing it, but no one enjoys it. But at least they’ve all come around on saying “poop.”

It takes a strong team of actors to conquer this jungle, and they are led by the multi-functional Mr. Hansen. In his kakis and pith helmet he’s charming, two faced and everything an officer and a gentleman should be in the field: loyal, in command and always ready for hot, sweaty action. In the modern world he’s a 4 year-old running amok in the playground and climbing Morgan Burhoe’s oddly sculpted set. In Act Two Mr. McDonald has the most beautiful hair but in act one he’s as close as a guy can get to a rather flat chested Victorian ideal woman. While everyone gets a good gag regularly, Whittaker’s young Edward bubbles with energy in Act One and then totally moms out in Act Two. The most interesting role falls to Joshua; he begins as a tormented Gunga Din character who swear off his family and race but is never accepted by his new keepers. But by curtain, he’s the one who feels best adjusted. He’s totally into the cruising life, and of the moderns the only one who seems completely comfortable. There are certainly more interpretations of this story than I’ve come up with; make your own and lets argue. I hear they make a mean gin and tonic out in the jungle.

For more information on Theatre UCF visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu


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