Thurs 15th September - Sat 27th September & Tues 30th September - Sat 4th October 1986
Directed by Ben Payne
An inventive and entertaining exploration of sexual repression and role-conditioning. In the Africa of the 1880s, a colonial family struggles manfully to keep both the natives without, and the natives within under control.
Act 2 is set in the 'liberated' Britain of the 1980s. The characters have aged by 25 years, become more real, but patterns repeat themselves and the ghosts of the past return to haunt them. (This play contains sexually explicit material which some people may find offensive.)
Cloud Nine is a two-act play written by British playwright Caryl Churchill after workshops with the Joint Stock Theatre Company in late 1978 and first performed at Dartington College of Arts in 1979.
This play shows how an individual's personality can be warped by pressure of what society expects it to be. The first act finds a white family in Victorian Africa trying to keep their upper lips stuff, the flag flying, the local savages down and their own sexuality at bay. Liberated 80s Britain is the setting for the second half, but there is still violence, repression and confusion as the past echoes in the present.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Harry Bagley||Frank Lyons|
|Ellen/Mrs Saunders||Jude Salmon|
|Stage Manager||Richard Stacey|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Damon Wakelin|
|Lighting||Steve Moth |
|Set Design/Music||Cerys Hogg|
|Set Construction||David Brown |
|Publicity||Mike Boyce |
In 1978/9 Caryl Churchill got together with the Joint Stick Theatre Group to produce a play about 'sexual politics'. The starting point was for the group to talk about their own experiences, read books and talk to other people.
In writing the first act she used a specific idea which had emerged from the 7 actors in the group - the parallel between sexual and colonial repression. So the first act is set in Colonial Africa of the 19th Century where Clive, the white father, in preserving the rigid order of the British Empire and British Family warps the personalities of those around him.
The second act moves to the more 'liberated' London of our own time. But, despite the freer atmosphere, were have only come so far - there is still confusion, repression, violence and an inability to love on each other's terms.
Nothing is funnier than other people's misfortune, particularly sexual misfortune - but we see how the individual suffers in attempting to find some sort of emotional freedom.
A porcelain doll used to represent a two-year old child and a man in drag were among the theatrical tricks used by the Bench Theatre to present 'Cloud Nine' at Havant Arts Centre. There were no stars amongst the cast, each shone as brilliantly as the others in their role-playing. Caryl Churchill chooses a representative from every sexual house in her exciting and original discussion of repression and freedom.
The first act is set in Victorian Africa where men protect Queen and country while the women bring up the family, lie back and think of England. The liberated 1980s provides the setting for the second half, But still some are bound by old conventions. Each character suffers mental torture, haunted by ghosts of the past, in a struggle to establish emotional and sexual freedom.
The play demanded and got a high standard of acting and it was a complete joy to see a group in complete control of difficult material, enjoying themselves, and ensuring the audience were informed as well as entertained. I recommend you take a trip to 'Cloud Nine' but the language and material are not suitable for children. The production continues until next Friday, except Sunday and Monday.
The News, 16th September 1986