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A: Michael Frayn Pf: 1976, London Pb: 1977 G: Com. in 2 acts S: Cuba, 1970s C: 4m, 1fThree writers are sent to Cuba to research the country: Owen Shorter, a journalist working for an English colour magazine; moody Mara Hill, a novelist writing for a rival Sunday colour magazine; and Ed Budge, an ebullient American academic, who is a voluble supporter of Cuba's Communist revolution. They are all taken by their interpreter Angel and their driver Hilberto on a mind-numbing tour of a sugar mill, a cane-cutting brigade, a new town, a collective farm, and a fertilizer plant, accompanied by enthusiastic comments from Ed, acerbic observations from Owen, and silence from Mara. Mara begins to get close to Angel and questions him about his life, while Owen grows mildly jealous. At last Owen and Mara confess their love for each other, and Angel and Ed become somewhat disgruntled. Eventually, Owen and Mara have a row, and Angel springs to Mara's defence, hitting Owen. When Ed intervenes, there is a power cut and he mistakenly gets hit on the head in the darkness. Mara, weary of it all, falls into Hilberto's arms.

A: Michael Frayn Pf: 1976, London Pb: 1977 G: Com. in 2 acts S: Cuba, 1970s C: 4m, 1f

Set against a reasonably positive portrayal of Castro's Cuba, Clouds is a gentle, witty, and well-observed romantic comedy, which traces the tortuous relationships between Mara and her four travelling companions. The title Clouds suggests that, whatever the political system, like the uncontrollable clouds humans will fall in and out of love, creating formations that then disperse.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

Reference entries

Michael Frayn (b. 1933)