- The Cloud Factory
Reviewed by Danielle MartinIt’s a treat to come into a low-tech performance, and before the show begins be invited into the piece’s atmosphere. In this case, original, sweet folk tunes calmed and opened the space up for solo performer Alix Sobler,
as she takes not just on but breathes in small town America. As the audience sits in the black box, they view a laundry line of simple costume pieces, each representing a different person in the town. From that vantage, the 2nd hand clothing takes on a sheen of almost elegance, and it’s in that ‘almost’ that the story begins with the “waiting for the rebirth of wonder.”
This piece addresses through the microcosm of the fictional town of Sommerville what happens as its Cloud Factory closes with the death of the last man who knew how to operate the machinery- Sonny Airdale. Sobler neatly and simply- although not completely adroitly – serves up a sampling of townies as they reel from the certain fate of their town. All the neighbors you expect to meet at the town hall are to my mind welcomed guests: Gus, the endearingly crotchey old man; Harvey, the upstanding citizen; Lauralee, the insufferable factory owner’s wife; Betty, former homecoming queen and present drunk. And then there is the young and conflicted as embodied by Sonny’s granddaughter Mary, who must choose between staying with her town or leaving in order to make another life for herself.
All of which would add up to only a decent night of theatre, but for Sobler’s writing. This woman is a swift, capable and, most of all, sincere story writer. The writing blends the familiar with the colloquial to create people you’d count yourself lucky to sit beside on a long bus trip. And the treat is that within each of these characters lies golden nugget one-liners that materialize, well, like clouds. Sobler’s clever that way. When Mary bemoans the fact that a boy has a crush on her (which young women are wont to do), she laments, “If I marry him, I’d have no one to talk to.” Or for the more wistful, as Gus looks into the clouds, he shares his vision of, “History meltin’ up into the sky.” Just. Good. Stuff.
There’s only one more performance of this show, and, well, it shouldn’t be something that Fringe goers should let roll by.
- Running Time: 60 minutes
- Tickets: The Cloud Factory
- Remaining Show: Fri, July 25 at 8:30
- Where: Warehouse Next Door, 1021 7th Street, NW