Friday, March 26, 2010

Cleveland Play House: Cloud 9 (CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program)

Another spur of the moment attendance decision lead to one of the funniest plays I've seen in Cleveland. Due to mature content, specifically virtually boundless sexual references and more double entendre than you can shake a stick at, I'm not sure that the show is advisable for those under 16 or over 50. But anyone (based on the amount of distinctly feminine laughter and cackling behind me) in the sweet spot in the middle should have some fun..

The cast consists entirely of the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House Master of Fine Arts Acting Program Class of 2010 -- with a name nearly as long as a play and an unpronounceable abbreviation that's longer than many words (CWRUCPHMFAAP -- "Crew Ceph Mmm Faarp"?), the name may be the worst part of the show (well, and the fact that there is no semblance of a plot synopsis nor even a director's note in the program).

The actors, Dan Hendrock, Andrew Gorell, Yan Tual, Eva Gil, Kelli Ruttle, Kim Krane, and Michael Herbert, all doubling roles, have impeccable comedic timing and convey a fantastic amount of accurate expression through their body language and facial expressions. Once again, CPH artistic staff, notably scenic designer Jill Davis support the near-farcical action on stage quite well. The only negative acting bit that sticks in my mind -- perhaps so because of the truism "you only get one first impression" -- Ms. Gill's entrance as young Edward was lost under music; I'm not sure if it was a case of the music being too loud or her needing to project more, I had no problems hearing her dialogue during the remainder of the show.

The boundary-pushing, gender-bending show, written by Caryl Churchill justaxposes the conservative and oppressive British Victorian colonial period with the much looser 1970s, as the colonization was drawing to an end. With some characters being played by actors of the opposite gender, the line between man/woman and sex/gender is somewhat blurred and the audience challenged as to how they decide to perceive that character.

Generally well paced, the show is by no means short (1:15/15/1:11) and a large part of the 2nd act seemed to add minimal value -- yet, the random song number and appearance of a swing made it worthwhile.


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