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Fans of provocative and innovative theater will find much to their liking in Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine. The first act is set in a British colony of Africa during Victorian times and centers on the family and household life of the administrator, Clive. His wife Betty is played by a man; their African servant is a black man played by a white actor; daughter Victoria is a stuffed doll; and their son Edward is a very effeminate boy played by a woman. Act Two takes place 100 years later chronologically, but only 25 years have passed for the family. Now Victoria is played by a woman, and she's carrying on an active affair with another woman, Lin; Lin has a hyper-violent young daughter who's played by a fully grown man in a dress. Betty has also come to terms with her sexuality and left Clive. Edward has come out of the closet, and he's portrayed by a man. Churchill explores Jean Genet's ideas of colonialism's oppression being equal to sexual repression in her casting, and uses Bertolt Brecht's concepts of utilizing the ultimate truth of theater as a way of exposing and destroying institutionalized power. It's powerful stuff, presented by the young actors of Webster University's Conservatory of Theater in Webster Hall's Stage III (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7128). Show times are 7:30 Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (March 24 to April 4), and tickets are $6 to $12.
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: March 24. Continues through April 4, 2010

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