Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Caryl Churchill has penned plenty of topical plays in her career, and Cloud 9 has proved, surprisingly, one of the most resilient. The 1979 play is the product of a moment mostly past—the coincidence of a British empire near death and social revolutions of various sorts, mostly sexual—but its format, which confronts Victorian mores, has held up; the challenges rub against contemporary mores just as well. At the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, the Catalyst Theater Company draws those enduring lessons out handily at the hands of director Halo Wines (who starred 20 years ago in Arena Stage’s production of the play). Wines gets sharp performances out of her cast, especially from Dan Via, who is equally convincing as the oppressive imperialist in the colonial-Africa first act and as a vulnerable, effeminate homosexual in the late-’70s-Britain Act 2. Via’s foil, Jesse Terrill, is less credible, though he’s asked to do more—cross-dressing as the dutiful wife consumed with lust for another man in Act 1. After that, it’s hard to imagine Terrill in much besides a Monty Python sketch, but he comes through substantively as a predatory gay man in Act 2. Still, it’s Ellen Young who holds the second act together, turning from an acid-tongued mother-in-law into a divorcée with a penchant for proto–vagina monologues. Also of note are Franklin Labovitz’s costumes, which look especially lush against Giorgos Tsappas’ angular set, resembling nothing so much as a dentist’s office. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. (see City List for other dates) at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Market 5 Gallery Stage, 545 7th St. SE. $15–$30. (202) 547-6839. (Mike DeBonis)