Sunday, April 3, 2016


Anteaus Theatre's unusual double casting with the possibility of actually three different casts works.  It works because the members of the company understand what ensemble means and play it with vigor and vitality. 
L to R:Deboarah Putette,Bill Brochtrup,Bo Foxworth, Liza de Weerd, Abigail Marks,  Chad Borden Photo Credit Geoffrey Wade Photography

I particularly wanted to compare today's The Blighters cast of Cloud Nine to The Hotheads because in the past the pleasure of seeing one well honed cast (The Hotheads: please see previous review) usually means that the alternate cast will be equally interesting but for different reasons. 

As the Antaeus Theatre’s run of Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill continues, it only gets better.  The unique situation of two entirely different casts allows working actors to come and go with ease.  This performance, featuring The Blighters cast: Bo Foxworth, Bill Brochtrup, Deboarah Putette, Liza de Weerd, Abigail Marks, David DeSantos and Chad Borden played to a full house at a Sunday matinee taking us in Act I back to 1879 British Colonial Africa.   At a time when the sun never set on the British Empire,  Clive (Foxworth) is on Her Majesty's, Queen Victoria’s, service.  Exactly what he does for Queen and Country is unclear but he makes it known that being in Africa is not supposed to be fun nor comfortable.  Lovely Betty (Brotchtrup) is a loyal… more or less… and faithful ... sort of... wife who is reminded by her mother, Maud, (de Weerd) that a woman’s place and duty is to her husband and family. 

Casey Stangl’s direction creates wonderful stage pictures and the actors all fall in with the broad and exclamatory style the piece demands.  The program is absolutely necessary to tell who is whom as we enter Act II (thirty-five years later in 1979… just go along with us here) bringing forth all of the same actors in totally different roles.  What Churchill’s comment may be regarding the symbolism of this new age and the role and gender reversals (Clive (Foxworth) becomes a new character, Cathy, the daughter of Lin, the lesbian (Marks) who finds herself making moves on Victoria/Vicki  (de Weerd), whom we met in Act I in the form of a rag doll.  Vicki asks Lin (Marks rocking double duty in Act I as Ellen, the governess, as well as the hot to trot Mrs. Saunders, one object of Clive’s affection) if having an affair with another woman is adultery? Indeed every single character in Act I and in Act II is having some sexual thing with someone else.   

Also from The Hotheads, very Caucasian, Mr. Borden limns the black servant, Joshua in Act I and totally transforms in Act II to become the gay hustler, Gerry, who is the on again off again lover of Eddie, played by Ms Puette in Act I and then by Brochtrup in Act II now a gay gardener who longs to become a woman.  In Act I, as Harry, the adventurer, De Santos has encounters with no fewer than four of the other members of the cast, including Joshua!! In Act II DeSantos becomes Martin, the estranged husband of Vicki.

The broad style engendered by the script works. Thanks to Ms Stangl’s crisp direction the cast delivers  a tough and challenging two acts with professional performances all around.  Analysis of the motives of the playwright and these characters might take years in therapy, but the great energy and slick presentation, no matter what it all means, is worth a trip to NoHo for a genuine treat!

By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Casey Stangl
Antaeus Theatre
5112 Lankershim Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 91601

Performances continue through April 24:
Thursdays and Fridays @ 8 PM
Saturdays @ 2 PM and 8PM
Sundays @ 2 PM
Tickets and information:
 818 506 1983

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