Old-world hatred has never been so relevant.
Cherry Docs, a powerful two-hander penned by local playwright David Gow was a heavy piece of theatre done simple and right. Conceived by Beige Theatre Co. and directed by Katey Wattam, Cherry Docs brings weight and meaning to a festival with many frivolous (but very enjoyable) acts.
Set at the time it was written (the 1990’s), Cherry Docs glaces over internal monologues as well as interactions between short-tempered Jewish Lawyer Daniel Dunkleman (Max Katz) and young Neo-Nazi Mike Downey (Tom Gould). Mike has committed a hate crime, and public defender Danny has been assigned his case.
The performances were solid, and I can aptly say that this is one of the most well-acted shows you’ll see this Fringe. Though, the performance started off a little stiff. One of the opening monologues felt a little contrived, and some of the shared scenes in the beginning felt over rehearsed, with actors even slightly anticipating responses. This was quickly overcome, and a much more organic performative tone was established. These are nitpicky points in overall amazing performances, that I as an actor/director picked up on. Even so, immediately upon leaving the venue I texted a colleague “Dude, check out Cherry Docs.”
The Montreal Improv space worked in favor of the piece. The small venue really aided the script in bringing out the uncomfortable quirks in Mike, and more interestingly, Danny. The director’s and actors’ work on physicality gave the performers strong, living bodies that never dropped out of the moments being had. One of my favorite moments of direction was during one of Danny’s monologues, Mike’s body is involved on stage. This gave a striking ethereal visual.
From emulating a dim cell or interrogation room, to the stark blinding light of being “put on the stand”, the lighting and set design were simple and effective. You didn’t notice it until you noticed it, also aided by Montreal Improv’s simple setup. My only gripe here is that the set changes were a little janky and jarring. Tableau, lights fade, darkness, movement, lights up. There was an instance of a more fluid transition, and I wish I had seen more of that. This is, however, completely forgivable with the resources possible at the venue, as well as breaking realism (which was however already broken with Danny’s monologue that involved Mike’s presence).
The script itself is a personal favorite of mine. It presents blind hatred from both sides. It victimizes both sides. Mike asks to be tried as a man, and not have his Neo-Nazi ideals tried. The writer successfully presents both, and slowly separates the Human from the Neo-Nazi. And Danny, the Jewish lawyer defending Mike? Without giving too much away, he is no saint.
It is this grey and beautiful-ugly-grit that encapsulates what it is to be a human, and what it is to have ideals, terrible or not. The script is unapologetic (though maybe a scene too long). It presents the world, and asks that you swallow it.
All in all, a must watch for any Fringers looking to satisfy their need of heavy shows, or for anyone who wants to see some solid acting.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Rahul Gandhi
Théâtre de la Trotteuse presents “Whip”
When: June 8 – 18, 2017
Where: Montreal Improv Theatre A, 3697 Saint-Laurent Blvd.
Duration: 90 minutes
Box Office: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
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