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Cloud Nine (NHB Modern Plays) [Paperback]

Caryl Churchill
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

27 April 1989
A landmark play about sexual politics in colonial Africa and modern-day Britain, in which all our assumptions about sex and gender are stunningly exploded. First staged by Joint Stock and premiered in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 1979, it has since been staged all over the world.

Cloud Nine is about relationships - between women and men, men and men, women and women. It is about sex, work, mothers, Africa, power, children, grandmothers, politics, and money.

Frequently Bought Together

Cloud Nine (NHB Modern Plays) + Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead + Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts
Price For All Three: 20.77

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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Nick Hern Books; New edition edition (27 April 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854590901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854590909
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 114,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


The play that established Caryl Churchill as the most imaginatively daring of our major dramatists; and, nearly 30 years after its premiere, it still seems not only remarkably inventive but as sharp about the contradictions of gender as anything that has been written since. --The Times

Sharp comedy and a serious purpose are splendidly combined... It unlocks the imagination, liberates the mind, and leaves you weak with laughter. --Time Out

About the Author

Caryl Churchill (1938-) is probably the most respected woman dramatist in the English-speaking world. She is the author of some twenty plays including Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Cloud Nine, Top Girls, Serious Money, The Skriker, Blue Heart, Far Away and A Number, seen and admired all over the world.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly charged political satire, very funny 10 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Churchill's 'Cloud Nine' was a turning point in feminist theatre, a blend of both socialist satire and, at times, slapstick farce.
The first act is set in Colonial Africa in the late 19th Century, and brutally mocks the hypocritical Imperialists, with their (seemingly) rigid morals. This act looks at not only the double standards of Victorian culture, but at the effects of colonisation, and the overt sexism of our prudish ancestors. The second act moves the play on by 100 years, and the characters of the first act by 25 years, taking a look at how our attitudes to sex have changed; for example the homosexuality encountered in Act One as 'a disease more dangerous than diphtheria' is now acceptable.
This is certainly a good read - very funny and essential for anyone interested in modern drama, social satire or even feminism, but one can't help that this is a play which needs to be seen on stage rather than read. Firstly the visual jokes are lost - the prudish patriarch Clive disappearing under the skirt of independent lady Mrs Saunders, the fact that a woman is played by a man, a black servant by a white, and a young girl by a doll. The effects of the cross-gender cross-racial parts aren't nearly as funny off the stage, ditto many of the fabulous one-liners; 'You don't do it with the natives, Harry? My God, what a betrayal of the Queen.'
Churchill's play will, however, remain a masterpiece, and needs to be read by anyone with an interest in feminist theatre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars still repressed 23 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This play reminds me of the sort of `theatre of the absurd' which we did in the 6th form, in the late 1960s, with our trendy drama teacher. It comes from the time of travelling theatre workshops visiting schools with anti-racist and gay liberation agendas. It is like a hilariously funny farce with its cross-dressing and some of us would love see it performed or, at least, see if it is on Youtube. One member of our book group said that if had seen it in 1979 it would have changed his life.

The first act, set in Victorian Africa, shows how the colonials regarded the natives as primitive, herdsmen would gladly chop off others' heads and wear them round their waists and how some natives knew their place, were `white' in their souls though black of skin.

Friendship between men is seen as better and that of a husband to a wife, who is there for reproductive purposes but `there is something dark about women....irrational, inconsistent, lustful; treacherous.'

One woman's advice to a soon to be bride, who knows nothing about sex, is to just keep still. You are not getting married to enjoy yourself

Homosexuality is seen as a `revolting perversion' which led to the fall of Rome and is more contagious than diphtheria. It is especially important not to do it with natives since it would be a betrayal of the Queen.

The second act is a hundred years later, though I don't understand why the characters are only twenty-five years older. Attitudes to sexuality are supposed to be liberated, there is mention of The Hite Report but there is still a feeling of oppression, with some male characters wearing dresses. Maybe attitudes don't change as much as we think they do.
Although the play is well put together, the first act is more believable that the second.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and thought provoking 18 July 2004
By A Customer
A couple of months ago I was reading the other reviews of cloud nine, wondering whether or not to go and see a production of it at my local theatre. In the end I decided i would, and was glad I did.
Seen in the right way, Cloud nine is both thought provoking and very funny. It portrays some of the biggest taboos of modern society with wit and flare, such as adultery and homosexuality.
If you don't approach Cloud nine with an open mind it could be seen as offensive, crude and unnecessary but in fact it is a long hard look at society today.
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