Reading the script for Caryl Churchill's 1979 play about sex and love is a special workout for the imagination. First, she asks you to imagine characters whose sexual identities and alliances shift constantly. Then she asks you to imagine that most of the characters make an impossible leap in time, from colonial Africa in the Victorian age to contemporary Britain. Lastly, she asks you to imagine some of the male characters played by women and some female characters played by men. Churchill likes to get things good and mixed up so all the audience's preconceptions about gender, romance, and "lifestyle" are scrambled, neutralized, and possibly even rebuilt. The title refers to the state of orgasmic and emotional bliss that everyone in this play seems to be striving for so desperately.
...the play offered an interesting commentary on prescribed notions of gender and sexuality....Brown Daily Herald
...Miss Churchill has found a theatrical method that is easily as dizzying as her theme. Not only does she examine a cornucopia of sexual permutations--from heterosexual adultery right up to bisexual incest-- but she does so with a wild array of dramatic styles and tricks....Miss Churchill, as you might gather is one deft writer.Frank Rich, The New York Times
An examination of postcolonialism and gender issues doesn't sound like the kindling for a hot night on the town. But Brit playwright Caryl Churchill knows what she's doing when she uses these subjects as the launching pads for her absurd sense of humor and critical commentary. Her 1982 play Cloud Nine
--a two act drama in which time and identity are not the rigid constructions we know them to be-is arguably the pinnacle of the playwright's career..Eye Weekly, Toronto
Miss Churchill has a highly original imagination, and if what she's got to say is familiar it's funnier and fresher than the last time we heard it said . . . [Cloud Nine
] is succinctly sassy, elegantly insulting, written with a quill pen that seems to have been deftly dipped in ice water.Walter Kerr, The New York Times
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