Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rave Review

"Raunchy, Shocking, Hilarious"

From the Eureka Times-Standard review by Meghan Vogel:

"British playwright Caryl Churchill's “Cloud 9,” performed with aplomb by the HSU Department of Theatre, Film and Dance, is a true farce for the postmodern age. Ironic and self-conscious, gender bending and sardonic, “Cloud 9” is a multi-layered exploration of sexual repression, intergenerational dynamics and changing social mores...

Director John Heckel said that after 30 years, while the didactic ideology has gotten more complex, none of the material of “Cloud 9” is dated. While Heckel did update Act II from 1970s/80s London to 2007 London, and replaced the conflict in Northern Ireland with the war in Iraq, Churchill's daring and witty “Cloud 9” remains as fresh as ever...

At a little more than two-and-a-half hours, “Cloud 9” teeters on the edge of jam-packed overkill, yet never becomes tedious, due solely to the polished, professional and seasoned actors, all of whom are a joy to watch. Each actor shines as they take on their unpredictable character roles to lay the groundwork for their next surprise twist, which they all manage to pull off naturally.

Not the least of the actors' superb talents is the ability to grasp a British accent, both the stilted Victorianese of the 19th century and the lilting urban middle-class accent of contemporary London. Belief is indeed suspended, and the audience truly transported, since it isn't necessary to cringe at the sound of a badly done British accent.

Perhaps more importantly is that the actors are all totally believable in their gender, and even race, bending roles. Each character, whether gay, straight or bi, is made to be androgynous either through mannerisms or visual devices. Heckel made two major cast changes for HSU's production of “Cloud 9” to reflect the complications of updated gender conflicts. Katherine Bickford, a very blonde female, plays Joshua, the black servant who is played by a white male in Churchill's version. While Joshua has the fewest lines of any in Act I, Bickford is wholly believable as the unsmiling and slightly sinister Joshua. In Act II, Martin, the seemingly neo-feminist husband, is played by Missy Hopper, who easily transforms into Martin as to be almost unrecognizable as the same actor who played a crotchety old widow in Act I.

Tisha Sloan is an impressive delight as she quickly switches from the character of the shy Ellen to the liberated Mrs. Saunders in Act I, and in Act II gives Victoria real profundity. Erik Rhea shines as the comical Betty in the first act, as well as the grown-up and sexually confused Edward in the second act. Sarah Daum, Alex Gradine and Calder Johnson complete the cast, and each is compelling in their respective roles.

HSU's large crew of design and production staff is reflected in the fanciful and intriguing set design, which must double as a colonial home in British Africa and as a playground in London. Lovely paper lanterns suspended from the tall ceiling and colorful plumbing pipes add a heightened sense of the hodge-podge of post-modernity. Great costumes also contribute to the play's overall aesthetic."

Last chance to see CLOUD 9: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 1-3 at 7:30 PM in the Gist Hall Theatre!

No comments: