Come one and all for England, rally to the flag… From North and South and East and West Come one and all for England! ” (Cloud 9) Act one of Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill is set in a British African colony in the nineteenth century. The first scene takes place on the verandah of a house. The scene also opens with an opening song introducing all the characters in the show. Before the show even starts, the actors come out, not fully dressed, and warm up. I think that this was a director’s choice to show the audience which characters are female and which ones are male.
Evelyn Gaynor was one of the actresses who came out before the show in a wig cap to show she was playing a boy in the first act. Evelyn does an excellent Job with transitioning from a male in act one to playing a female in the second act. In the opening scene you see Evelyn play the role of young Edward. You see Edward tending after Victoria’s doll, which annoys his father because he thinks this is unmanly. You also question Edwards sexuality during this scene because of Evelyn’s character choices with the doll. Evelyn embraces the doll like it is her prized possession as well as talking to it.
All of these interactions with this prop gives the audience a sense that Edward has some feminine qualities. You also sense the feminine qualities in Edward through his interactions with his uncle Harry. You see the the love Edward has for his uncle in the opening scene and throughout the rest of the first act. At first it looks as if Edward is just longing for that loving father figure that Clive doesn’t provide to his son, but as act one proceeds, you See Evelyn make very strong character choices to show that it’s more than that.
You see Evelyn draw nearer and nearer to Harry each time they are together in a scene. You also see the innocence shine though Evelyn when she asks her uncle to “do that thing” again that they did during Harrys last visit. Evelyn beams with happiness when she asks this question which make the performance believable. I honestly believe that Edward doesn’t know the impact of what’s going on because Evelyn plays The innocence of Edwards character so well. I feel that Evelyn’s overall intention of playing the part of Edward was to show the Journey of Edwards true truggle.
You can see through Evelyn’s performance that Edward constantly battles with trying to impress his father and also be true to himself. Evelyn Does an excellent job in playing the true, young, innocent age of the young Edward. Because Evelyn’s choices to talk as a would it makes the character more believable. By this, I mean the way she is either whining, pouting, or Just talking as a young child would. This helped me to actually picture a young child go though these true struggles with his father as well as his sexuality.
At the beginning of act two you can see that Evelyn has made the transformation from Edward, a male, to Betty, a female. These two characters, in my opinion, are polar opposites, and for Evelyn to master both parts is nothing short than amazing. Unlike act one, Evelyn now plays Betty, a now more liberated Betty (unlike Betty in act 1). Evelyn plays this role with the utmost class….. at first. She holds her ground and takes her beats to collect herself during he first chunk of lines but as you see Betty unwind and tell her children about the divorce, you see an underlying anic in Evelyn’s voice.
This shows that Betty still is quite afraid to hold her own. I overall intentions in act two were to be able to branch out by nerselt and realize she doesn’t need a man to support her in order for her to survive. with this said, Evelyn takes us on a Journey of realization by showing each side of the new Betty. You see the stronger, more confident Betty and also the more venerable Betty. You can see that Evelyn chose to show her most venerable point when she was trying to leach onto the lats chance in having a relationship with her own daughter.
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