A play by Caryl Churchill
Company: Chichester Festival
Venue: Minerva Studios Theatre
July 28 – August 22, 1989

Production NOTE:
Directed by Sam Mendes
(Chichester theatre programme, 1989);
also reported as directed by
David Levaux in a review dated
August 8, 1989 and
published in The Guardian (London). Corrections to this information are
welcome. Please email the webmistress
on the home page if you have more
information on this.

NOTE: This play uses one cast to play
roles in a family, but actors switch
characters in Act 2.  It is important to
the play that all characters are cast utterly against type, and genders and identities are switched purposefully.  
This list is partial, gleaned from
reviews. We welcome additons and corrections!

Darren Tunstell as Clive
Tom Dunn as his wife, Betty, and later
Edward's boyfriend, Gerry
Caroline Loncq as their son, Edward and
later his sister Victoria
Kate Duchene plays Maud and Betty
Caroline Webster as Ellen, the
Tom Hollander as houseboy Joshua (a black servant ) and Cathy
___ as explorer Uncle Harry
___ as Mrs Saunders

More information when available.

Cloud Nine


Head in the clouds: Cloud 9 – Minerva, Chichester
By Paul Taylor
The Independent
July 31 8, 1989

“...Churchill goes in for some purposefully perverse casting. Betty, the administrator's wife, is played by a man (all shy Princess Diana smiles and muffled sorrow in Tom Dunn's attractive but insufficiently incongruous performance). Joshua, their black servant is a disdainfully patrician white boy (Tom Hollander) and Edward, their homosexual son is impersonated by a woman (Caroline Loncq). If Queen Victoria herself had arrived, performed by a gay disabled Rottweiler, you would not have been surprised.” – “Head in the Clouds”, The Independent, July 31, 1989.  

Sadness and Humor in Perfect Harmony
By Peter Woods
The Times
August 6, 1989
“At Chichester's studio theatre, the Minerva, seven marvellous young actors give a lethal account of Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine, a blistering broadside of English  sexual politics.... This is one of the toughest and most resonant plays of the 1970s, and David Leveaux's brilliant production is full of both murderous accuracy and warm compassion.”

Cloud Nine
By Mick Martin
The Guardian (London)
August 8, 1989

NOW 10 years old, Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine was originally devised in collaboration with members of Joint Stock, and it continues to illustrate both the shortcomings and the advantages of the celebrated Joint Stock method.
What it lacks is shape, structure, and fully-rounded characters.

In the bizarre first act, set in colonial Africa at the turn of the century, Churchill's ability to hit the nails of prejudice, insensitivity and hypocrisy squarely on the head is largely undermined by manipulative propping, and by the parade of relentlessly one-dimensional cardboard cut-out characters used to make the point.

The same characters in middle age are only slightly more substantially drawn in act two, which leaps the years to 1979, but here we benefit from the thoroughness of Joint Stock's research, and from their determination to look at a given theme from every angle. What emerges is a series of snapshots which build into a composite and provocative picture of contemporary sexual politics.

And while part of the point is that we remain trapped in a maelstrom of conflicting needs, desires and imposed or inherited social roles, Churchill also suggests at least the possibility of a shift in the balance of sexual power.

The director, David Levaux, throws the company into the first-half parody with overbearing and sometimes horribly overstated jollity.

Darren Tunstell as Clive is a twitching and ever more manic Victorian patriarch, Tom Dunn simpers dutifully as his wife, Betty, and only Caroline Loncq as their son, Edward, uncomfortably caught by the dawning awareness of his own homosexuality, really gives pause for thought.

But with greater depth, greater variation in tone and moments of genuine tenderness, Levaux gets it more nearly right in act two. Tunstall and Loncq here convey well the mixture of spontaneous joy, bewilderment and slight fear of brother and sister gingerly testing the waters of freedom.

But the crucial performance comes from Kate Duchene, who traces the latter-day Betty's path from emotional thraldom to self-acceptance and self-esteem with both subtlety and conviction.

She comes closer than anyone to disguising the play's continued tendency to concern itself with attitudes rather than with people.

In repertory at the Minerva Studio, Chichester (0243 781312), until August 22.


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