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Cloud 9

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  5,578 ratings  ·  175 reviews
In colonial Africa, a Victorian English patrician represses the natives, his wife, his children, homosexuals—and still finds time for an affair with a widowed neighbor. The same family appears in Act Two 25 years older and back in London, only now it’s 1979.Cloud 9 is about relationships - between women and men, men and men, women and women. It is about sex, work, mothers, ...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Theatre Communications Group (first published 1979)
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,578 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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Barry Pierce
A hilarious and incredibly raunchy play from one of Britain's pre-eminent playwrights Caryl Churchill. Packed to the brim with taboo-breaking moments and played out by a cast of gender bending and race transcending characters, Cloud Nine is a play that will make you think, and gag, and look away, and laugh, and feel awkward. You definitely won't forget it easily.
Feb 12, 2009 added it
Shelves: tutoring
Cloud 9 is a dive into the deep end of sexual politics.

From the cast list—which indicates that some women and girls should be played by men, a black character played by a white, and a boy by a woman—it’s clear that readers are in for an adventure.

How successfully this works is another question.

Cloud 9 is broken into two acts. The first act tells the story of a British family in Africa during the Victorian era. They are part of an oppressive regime, and the oppression of the Africans by the Brit
Jessica Barkl
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Boy o' boy! This play caused quite the uproar in my 2009 North Campus (Washington State Penitentiary) Representative Plays class. 6 students got to page six and slammed the book shut and refused to keep reading (as their response paper told me). Yikes! I had never thought of this as a very controversial play. I did the dramaturgy in a team effort in 1999 and I was watching the gender switching/time switching/genre switching/place switching right in front of my little eyes and I hadn't really tho ...more
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school-assigned
Very peculiar. This was a required reading for my philosophy class. I didn't appreciate the "random" element of this play. There is probably lots to analyze in there but I just got bored with the crudeness and the confusing plot. There are way too many characters! Not for me.
Laala Alghata
Apr 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love this play. Maybe I’m the right age for it. Maybe it’s just different enough to be interesting, maybe because I don’t read a lot of plays I think it’s clever, maybe Caryl Churchill is just an amazing writer.

It has two acts, one set in Victorian times in a British colony in Africa. Act Two is in London in 1979 — a hundred years have passed, but for the characters it is twenty-five years later. In first act, Betty, who is Clive’s wife, is played by a man to symbolize her trying to be everyt
Samuel Zucca
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well this play was absolutely off the wall.

After really hating Top Girls I was so pleased at how enjoyable this was. It's quite dizzying with it's race and gender swaps, time jumps from colonial Africa to 1970s London, and everyone seeming to be sleeping with everyone else.

A lot of the themes in the play are quite dark, and troubling and immediate, but that doesn't stop it from being really fun. When I read this in my head it almost seemed like a musical, as most scenes do have a song involve
Anna Groover
Cloud 9 wrestles with a lot of important social issues by rendering the familiar unfamiliar: women are played by men, men are played by women, and a black man is played by a white man. In this sense, it's satirical and a little bit nonsensical--the first act takes place in colonial Africa and the second act in the (somewhat) present day, although the characters only age 25 years in the time that passes between acts.

I appreciated the relationality at the heart of many of the conflicts between ch
Charley Rose
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a play I had to read for my tutorial at University and I'm really glad that it was chosen. It was uncomfortable in a way that a play about sexual politics should be, and it was both thought provoking and crudely funny as well. I liked the references to other pieces of literature and also songs from around the time, (Tommy's Gun!), that were subtle but added to the meaning. The characters, although many of them deliberately archetypal of the people they were supposed to represent in soci ...more
Well that was interesting! I liked the gender-bending. I'll be very interested to discuss this in class! But I'm even more sure now that I don't like 20th century things, or at least the stuff the uni chooses, cause it's all bawdy and kinda gross. But I've got more used to it since last year 🙄 wow never thought I'd "get used to" (or at least acclimatised/resigned to) gay sex in books!
Emma Getz
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cloud 9 is messy and ambitious, but those types of plays tend to be my favorites. The entire structure relies on Brechtian distancing effects, which is what makes it so strong. The story therefore ends up in the structure itself.
It tackles issues of gender, sexual identity, and perhaps most importantly the massive and longstanding effects of British colonialism. The play doesn’t provide perfect answers, but it doesn’t really need to. It would be super interesting to watch this one performed liv
Katie Greenwood
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
**Actual Rating 3.5**
This isn't the sort of play you can read on the train...or half asleep. Caryl Churchill's Cloud 9 aims to make strange that which we see far too often, similar to Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle (review here). But this play does it in a far more interesting and entertaining way. Certain characters are cross cast, meaning a man can be played by a woman, a POC character can be played by a white character and vice versa. This unique aspect of Cloud 9 satirises aspects of our so
Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theater
Love and acceptance of oneself and of others is a theme at the heart of this amazing British play that revolutionized English theater. As the censorship of the theater was stripped away, Churchill took the opportunity to present a play that was overtly frank in its depiction and discussion of sex, sexuality, and gender roles in the 1970's. Homosexuality, gender bending, adultery, violence, racism, and graphic language all take center stage in a play that will leave you both hysterical with laugh ...more
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010, drama
Hilarious and provocative meditation on identity, sexism, colonialism, sexuality and theatricality. The play's first act is set in colonial Africa, a Victorian-era parallelism (?) between the project of Empire and the microcosm of the family. Gender/sex/body bending abounds. Act two transplants the same figures into contemporary England (well, contemporary to the play's publication in the end of the 70s) and questions whether we read this transition between Victorianism and 'modern' sexual polit ...more
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars (although I later downgraded it to 3.75 stars)
I'm not really sure what to say other than I thought this was just incredible. (I've spent the past five minutes trying to articulate my thoughts but it didn't make any sense, so I guess all I can tell you is to just read it.)

(Or watch it)

Edit that was written two minutes after I published this review: I feel like I'm overhyping the play. Basically the thing that blew my mind was the symbolism behind characters being played by actors o
Robert O Mahony
Feb 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: school-college, drama
Really don't know what to say about this. It was funny at times and its take on gender/sexuality is pretty clever but just... what. Half of the dialogue just seemed nonsensical. Lectures will probably clear that up. Pretty enjoyable overall!
This book explores a lot of social conventions. Sexuality, gender, gender expression, sex, race. I seems to touch on everything. And it comically shows us, as readers, how preposterous these stereotypes and roles are.I loved how casually these scenes played out.
Alan O'Keeffe
Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: british
A thought provoking satire that has a smidgen of sex, (by smidgen I mean I am being highly sarcastic and it is full of it.
Danni The Girl
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Really weird
Jun 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
Caryl Churchill is actually a very good writer if she'd just quit writing about sex for longer than thirty seconds.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bizarre fun.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Because the Theatre Arts Department at the University of Miami is producing the play, I will be teaching Cloud Nine this semester to my Into to Theater students. Anticipating this, I reread it this morning. So here are some thoughts...

Act One transpires in Africa during Victorian times, and Act Two jumps to London in 1979, though the characters have only aged 25 years. The historical division between the two acts is almost as significant, if not more so, than the non-traditional casting in Act O
Nick Jones
This isn’t the most subtle of plays, but there is no reason a play should be subtle. A play about sexual politics, but the sex might be more coherent than the politics. The form of Cloud Nine, however, is intriguing. The first act is set in British colonial Africa sometime during Victoria’s reign, the second act is in contemporary London (i.e., late 1970s London). The children in the first act are now adults...although they’ve only aged by about twenty years which doesn’t make sense in a realist ...more
Jon Hewelt
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like Caryl Churchill's work, but I often find I don't understand it.

That's not meant as a criticism. Part of what endears me to her plays is the complexity, the denseness, the sense that there is something being said here, that there is something to be understood.

The foreword indicates that Cloud 9 was developed as a workshop piece, and perhaps more than any other play, I would very much loved to have been witness to that process.

The first act concerns a cluster of Brits in colonialist Africa.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Alright.... So Act I started off really interestingly. It was a thought-provoking dialogue of patriarchy, heteronormativity, and imperialism. However, Act II was straight up scary. Act II takes place in 1970s England (in contrast to Act I, which is set in Victorian Africa) and shows how the same characters have advanced from the patriarchal, heteronormative ideas of "yore" (as one would assume, racial tensions have not eased, especially coming off the turbulence of the 1960s and the still-fresh ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This postmodern play won't suit every reader. But, anyone interested in the British Empire, the 19th-century, feminism and expressionism should find Churchil's play intriguing, funny and sharp in its criticism of gender and race politics. In a trademark Churchill move, the first and second acts of the play are set in entirely different centuries and locations (i.e., the first act of the play is set in colonial Africa, and the second in 1970s Britain). The result is that readers/viewers of the pl ...more
Ida Marie
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I dare you to find a more bizarre and abnormal narrative than Cloud 9 - if you can even call it a narrative. The personalities involved, the setting, the elements, it is all just quite weird and not always totally understandable, but always funny - in a challenging way. Underneath it all there are interesting themes worth considering, once you peel away all the weirdness of it. Would recommend to anyone interested in digesting their reads, and not just strolling through.
Paul LaFontaine
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
A group of British expats in Africa have sex with other and express their inner impulses toward empire.

I have tried to grasp Caryl Churchill's plays and just must not have the intellectual horsepower. Many characters, sexual situations, depression and it just feels like it goes nowhere. The threads of narrative start then just peter out. At the end I didn't care about the characters or the point of the exercise.

Can't recommend.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
This fractured narrative is perhaps structurally similar to Top Girls with very distinctive 'before and after' parts. It tackles similar themes too, the place of women in the world, the sacrifices asked, the delusions occasionally embraced. History is acknowledged also, as is race, to a greater degree, along with the notions of heroism and morality.

A fine and often strange play.
Grace Leneghan
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Seriously one of my favorite plays, I saw this several years back at the Atlantic Theater in NYC and it was such a vivid, remarkable experience watching this play unfold. Churchill masterfully twines gender-bending, double casting, and double entendres together to continually make the audience feel captivated. I also love a good orgy scene in a play (The Angry Brigade really started that for me).
Britney Peterson
Feb 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Read this in my sophomore-level English class in college. I can appreciate the themes of feminism and sexual liberation, but the actual execution of the story left MUCH to be desired. At least for me.
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Edi Litposting : Cloud 9 1 3 Oct 21, 2017 06:22AM  

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Caryl Churchill (born 3 September 1938) is an English dramatist known for her use of non-naturalistic techniques and feminist themes, dramatisation of the abuses of power, and exploration of sexual politics.[1] She is acknowledged as a major playwright in the English language and one of world theatre's most influential writers.

Her early work developed Bertolt Brecht's modernist dramatic and theatr
“Maud: Young women are never happy.
Betty: Mother, what a thing to say.
Maud: Then when they're older they look back and see that comparatively speaking they were ecstatic.”
“Harry: I supposed getting married wouldn't be any worse than killing myself.” 4 likes
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