Saturday, July 8, 2017

Production of Cloud 9 by The Seeing Place Theater

CLOUD 9
The Seeing Place Theater
Performed at the Access Theater
380 Broadway
New York, NY
www.TheSeeingPlace.com
Through July 16, 2017

If you liked last season's Sense and Sensibility you'll love The Seeing Place Theater's production of Cloud 9.
Gender, race, and age-bending are just the tip of the iceberg when speaking of Caryl Churchill's groundbreaking play, Cloud 9. 

To quote managing director and actress Erin Cronican, “We’re very proud to announce that four of seven plays we're presenting this season are written by female playwrights starting with Ms Churchill’s seminal work which explores power and perception. We see our societal assumptions turned on their head by watching one family in two distinct eras – one that celebrates the patriarchy and one that smashes it. And we’re delighted to be telling this story using the same Brechtian techniques championed by Churchill herself.” 
The full ensemble in Act I
Co-directed by Cronican and Brandon Walker, Cloud 9 stars an extraordinary ensemble cast consisting of Ms. Cronican, Jane Kahler, Bill McAndrews, Sabrina Schlegel-Mejia, Robin Friend Stift, Ari Veach, and Mr. Walker. The play allows the actors to create multiple roles within dueling time-settings while important stage directions and descriptions are narrated on stage by Clinton Powell. 
Robin Friend Stift and Ari Veach as Edward and Gerry in Act II
In Act I, which takes place in a British Colony in Africa in 1880, the Victorian Era's attempt to squash sexuality explodes with delight on stage as unexpected couplings occur and testing of roles in society and power struggles play out. And then in Act II, which takes place in London, England in 1980 we see the same characters played by different actors in 1980 (but it's just 25 years later). It's sounds bizarre, but it works! 
Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican as Cathy and Lin in Act II
I had the pleasure of enjoying the original New York City production of Cloud 9 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in 1981 - thirty-six years ago! So it was an interesting revisiting of this unique play. I hesitate to call the material dated, instead maybe it's because 3 decades have passed but the play created less of a jolt to my sensibilities than it did back then. But The Seeing Place's production, with the destruction of societal roles one had to play and the exploration of countless sexual couplings or triplings (is that a word), still allowed for an exciting night at the theater. 

The ensemble's acting was terrific all around. Each time, as I write this, I've attempted to highlight one or two of them, and then just realize, everyone was magical. 

The Seeing Place Theater's production of Cloud 9 is short lived so if you're in New York City for the next week, check it out at the Access Theater located at 380 Broadway. 


Creative Team: Directed by Brandon Walker. Co-Direction by Erin Cronican. Lighting Design by Duane Pagano. Sound Design by Brandon Walker. Set/Costume Design by Erin Cronican. Assistant Direction by Candice Oden. Assistant Production Design by Robin Friend Stift. Dialect Coaching: Jane Kahler.



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