Hatred, superiority, fear, confusion, desperation and a longing to hold onto our ancestry; all of these and more, are topics approached by David Gow’s two-man play Cherry Docs. Set in present day Canada, Danny is a Jewish Attorney assigned to a case that no one else wanted. Mike is that case; a Neo-Natzi who kicked a man to death with his steel-toed Cherry Doc Martins. The tension is almost immediate as the conflicts of interests and beliefs ignite up the night at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. The two men try to get past their hatred and work together for the sake of the trial.
This is a story that provides a lot of insight into the world and how people operate around one another. Many people share many different views and they can often be insulting or even harmful to those around them. Gow’s play addresses those issues and more by bringing together two people who have completely different moral values and make them work together as a team. The ignorance and hatred addressed throughout the night can resonate with any audience member. A powerful moment comes when Danny recalls a drive home where he is confronted by a group of kids of African descent. They are dressed in all black, metal and leather. They want to wash his car and though he does not know why, this infuriates him. In a flash of realization he claims, “I hate them. No… I’m afraid of them”. This one line, delivered with eery emotion, summarizes much of the feelings in America and throughout the world. As a race, we often hate what we do not and cannot understand. Being different scares us and therefore we fight against it.
Danny and Mike never truly become friends, but their differences do subside. Danny realizes how Mike can hate the way he does and Mike realizes that someone from the very culture he despises helped him even though he did not have to. It is a strong play and one that will have you thinking long after it has ended.
The presentation of this powerful piece is good. The acting is stellar, though Andrew Walker is listed to play Mike, in the performance I attended Mark Cecil played him. Cecil was passionate, and boiled over with hatred, confusion and remorse. Alan Blumenfeld’s Danny struggled throughout the play with the idea of helping someone who wished to “annihilate” him. There were lighting issues at the opening of the play, but they were quickly fixed, and Cecil did not miss a beat of his monologue even though he was in complete darkness for most of it. Overall this is a play worth seeing and since it is at one my favorite venues it is definitely worth a trip to Topanga Canyon.
Cherry Docs plays Thursdays with an occasional Saturday from now until October 13th. Check Theatricum’s website for a full list of all of their stellar productions.