From the Atlantic Theater’s promotional material you might think Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine is more dramatic than farcial, but that’s just the start of the confusion. Nothing is quite what it seems. Men play women, women play men, grown-ups play children, sexuality is fluid and time is warped. One thing is consistent — sex is in the air.
The first act takes place in British Colonial Africa under the reign of Queen Victoria and Colonial Africa is on the verge of imploding. The natives aren’t happy, and neither is anyone else in the British administrator’s family who are at the center of the play. Tensions are ripe, but sexuality is repressed. Act 2 takes place in London in 1979 about 100 years later in real time yet only 25 years for the characters. (Don’t ask, it never becomes clear). Everyone has been liberated and family norms have changed.
Cloud Nine is creative and not as confusing as it sounds. Churchill wrote this play 34 years ago, just after the English decriminalized homosexuality, and it still has legs. It’s funny and irreverent and the actors, especially the terrific performances by Chris Perfetti and Brooke Bloom make it worth seeing. Unfortunately the audience was underwhelmed by the uncomfortable pine bleachers that were built especially for this performance in the round. You know it’s a problem when the Atlantic Theater suggests bringing your own pillows or cushions to make your seat “personally comfortable.” I enjoyed this clever play less than I might have because of the unnecessary change to the seating. LAR
Atlantic Theater – Linda Gross Theater, 336 W 20th Street
Ticket Prices: $65, Discounted tickets for members
Runs thru: November 1, 2015
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with one ten-minute intermission