I was on Cloud 9 on Saturday night…or rather, I was *at* Cloud 9 (A Comedy of Multiple Organisms), Caryl Churchill’s 1978 two-act play dealing with preconceptions of gender and sexuality. Act I and II are 25 years apart based on the characters’ ages, but in a wonderful twist, the first act is set in colonial Africa as an allegory of the repressive attitudes of the 1950s, and the second act is set in the late 1970s, which was current day at the time that the play was written (although the dialog was pretty timeless, and could be today). Furthermore, the same seven actors play different characters in each of the two acts, regardless of gender or race: the character of Betty, for example, is played by Evan Buliung in the first act (he was magnificent in the white dress and garters) and by Ann-Marie MacDonald in the second act. Add to this that two of the actors – Megan Follows and Ann-Marie MacDonald – are well known even to me, a cultural cretin who has to be invited to events like this by my more artsy friends.
The interesting thing about this Toronto production of Cloud 9 is how they’ve made the production transparent through the use of social media. CBC’s Spark podcast had a clip on this (starting at around 40 minutes into the January 24th/26th podcast) featuring the director, Alisa Palmer, discussing how they put information about the play, casting, characters, staging, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes comments online before the play ever opened: something rare in the somewhat secretive world of pre-opening-night theatre. Rose Plotek, the assistant director, wrote many of the blogs posts on the main site (cross-posted to their Facebook page), but there are also very candid contributions from actors Blair Williams and Ann-Marie MacDonald, as well as video clips of rehearsals and interviews:
Cloud 9 is playing at the Panasonic Theatre until February 21st. Great script, excellent actors and fabulous costumes make for a fun night out.