Copious Love Suggests
by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Shawn Main
at Theater Puget Sound Theater 4
After reading Cloud 9 for the first time I was left mesmerized, confounded and completely satisfied. Churchill’s odd poetic style and unique visions were some of the most terrifically beautiful pieces of literature I had ever read. Traditional theatre turned on its ear and improved by doing it backwards. Brilliant. Cloud 9 is one of those plays that will be done differently every single time it is performed. It is the kind of theatre I ached to see more of and aspired to produce. Theatre you can’t take your eyes off of, theatre that gets you thinking outside the box and that touches you in a way everything else in the world can’t. You get comfortably lost in gender bending, sexually charged, sometimes profoundly disturbing scenes that are both dark but also incredibly funny. Director Shawn Main took every opportunity for comedy that Churchill offers and it pays off. He also thankfully didn’t shy away from the opportunity to make things slightly uncomfortable. This is a beautifully balanced show.
Set in both Colonial Africa and London in the late 70’s, the actors are challenged not only with playing multiple characters but also with playing opposite races, genders and many undergo lightning speed costume changes. These changes were incredibly smooth, to the point where I had to check my program to make sure that Ellen/Mrs. Saunders was indeed played by only one actor. Strong performances and commitment carry a script of this caliber and there is not a weak link among this cast. Tom Stewart as Clive/Cathy is incredibly entertaining to watch, he keeps the action flowing with just the right tempo and in very creative ways.
Eric Mulholland as Betty/Edward offers a performance not to be missed, Betty is a character that requires incredible control and Mulholland delivers on every level. Danielle Daggerty as Joshua/Gerry controls the room every second she is on stage, you will not want to take your eyes off her. Katie Woodzick as Ellen/Mrs. Saunders/Lin seamlessly pulls off these three characters, sometimes with only seconds to change between costumes, and makes it look easy.
I had only one issue with the show on the whole, the outdoor sound effect loop throughout the whole second act was too much to handle. It was very hard to concentrate as it would fade after three seconds only to start again at full volume, over and over.
Strong performances by the cast and a wonderful set design make this show truly not to be missed. And when you DO come see this show, you can feel great about doing so because you will be supporting a fantastic company of passionate artists that are producing some astounding independent theater. Keep your eyes on this company! Thank you Rogue Theatrics, we had a great night!