Cast sparkles in ‘Cloud 9’ performance


Photo Credit: GSU

Alijah Boyd, Phoenix Staff Writer

On its surface, “Cloud 9” is a standard three-hour, two-act play, but it really is much more than that.

It told a wonderful story about acceptance and being true to who you are. “Cloud 9” is a very mature-themed play, so I do not recommend it be viewed by anyone under the age of  18.

I enjoyed the play from beginning to end. The first thing that caught my attention  was its very intimate setting. Instead of a traditional play where the audience is seated in the auditorium, we were seated onstage where we can have a better view and it felt more immersive in the story.

The second thing was the casting. The casting is very unorthodox for standard play but it is used as a satire on social structures in this play, which I thought was very good.

I liked how the first act started, but I felt a bit confused at times with what was exactly happening. Using a British colony in Africa during 1880 as a setting, the play was able to deliver a very interesting story. There was betrayal, there was some comedy, and there were seeds of unrequited love with several characters.

Each scene added a new layer of complexity and dynamics to each character: Whether it was the affair between Clive (Matthew Barta) and Ms. Saunders (Maya Shelton), the forbidden love of Betty (Joshua Tisdale) and Harry Bagley (Ethan Walker), the inappropriate desire of Edward (LaT’ya Johnson), the unrequited love of Ellen (Shelton) or the festering anger of Joshua (Kevin Kohn). Each of these elements weaved its way into a complexity that provided intrigue in the first act.

The second act is where I believe the story of the play truly shines. The primary characters — Betty, Edward, and Victoria — are really helped by the fact that the second act takes place in 1980. The timing made the story more engaging and allowed for the characters to feel more developed and entertaining.

In Act 2, Betty, Edward, and Victoria are portrayed by Lynne Clayton, Kevin Kohn, and LaT’ya Johnson respectively. Additionally, four new characters — Lin (Shelton), Cathy (Walker), Martin (Barta), and Gerry (Tisdale) — are introduced. Additionally, the characters from Act 1 are portrayed from interesting new angles:

  • Betty comes to terms with her life and the lives of her children which is encapsulated in a fantastic monologue that I genuinely loved.
  • Victoria’s arc  is more about progression and freedom as she is looking to move forward and away and she tries to understand more about herself.
  • Edward who is fully acceptive of himself is in a loveless relationship with Gerry and learns how to handle it.
  • Gerry develops into a true partner for Edward as he learns what commitment is.
  • Lin’s spends her time playing peacemaker and a person of encouragement for Betty, Edward, and Victoria.

The ending was amazing, and it is something that I feel should have been used a bit more throughout the whole play. At least more in the second act. But ultimately was fantastic.

Every actor in this play gave their all to their roles, and put it all on stage, but to me the standouts were LaT’ya Johnson, Lynne Clayton, and Joshua Tisdale. I felt they exceeded their roles and truly became the characters they were portraying.

“Cloud 9” earned a solid 7/10. It has amazing characters and story. The stage direction and setting were fantastic, I highly recommend it.