March 9, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 82  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Skinheads and lawyers clash in Cherry Docs


Cherry Docs
Starring: Oliver Becker and Christopher Morris
Written by: David Gow
Directed by: Stewart Arnott

By Deanna DiMenna
Gazette Staff

Danny (Becker), a middle-aged Jewish lawyer, steps onto the stage accompanied by classical violin music. The music abruptly changes to rock/punk when Mike (Morris), a skinhead charged with a race-based murder, approaches.

The lights dim and Danny describes his great multicultural community in Toronto and his positive experiences in his neighbourhood. In stark contrast, Mike offers a detailed description of how authentic leather, German made, steel-toe, 18-hole, Cherry-coloured Doc Martin boots can be weapons. Mike soon reveals that he brutally assaulted an ethnic man by kicking him repeatedly, causing the man’s death two weeks later.

When Danny and Mike meet for the first time in a visitation room atMike’s prison — the simple set for the play, including one square table, two metal chairs and one wooden chair — Danny is disgusted by Mike’s brainwashed, white supremacist ideals, and is reluctant to defend Mike in court. As Act I continues, however, Danny becomes a teacher and father figure to Mike, attempting to educate Mike about the legal case, and encouraging him to be actively involved in the trial.

An intermingling of character traits takes place between the two throughout the play. Danny uses the word “fuck” more frequently and unnecessarily in order to convey emotion, and develops a hatred for Toronto’s “squeegee kids.” Mike becomes more interested in learning the details of his case; however, he becomes annoyingly whiny in his self-pity.

Act II begins with dissonant classical music that changes into slow classical violin music, which drearily typifies the hopelessness the characters are feeling. Danny’s personal life starts to fall apart — he loses the respect of colleagues and his wife leaves him because of his constant working. Jail life, on the other hand, takes its toll on Mike, as shown in the brief scene where Mike smokes one cigarette after another in a panic.

The second act is full of religious undertones, including Biblical references to Daniel and the lion’s den and the fallen archangel, Michael, which relates to the characters.

Changing of seasons is important in the play, as pictures signifying the time of year flash on the screen behind the set; however, the passage of time is not romanticized because time is monotonous in prison for Mike and he loses a large portion of his young life in jail.

The images of nature on the screen and the use of time create juxtaposition, representing the contrasting ideals of Mike and Danny. References to sewing serve as an extended metaphor for Mike’s transformation (inspired by Danny) who takes him “through the eye of the needle” as the thread.

Cherry Docs is an interesting play with a positive message that permeates its vulgar tone. Although the actors perform with passion and vigour, the characters’ roles are typical for the particular genre of play and resemble the Hollywood blockbuster formula for a legal-type movie, leaving the audience disappointed. Yet the way in which the plot unravels, and the overall performances, capture attention throughout the production.

Cherry Docs is playing at the McManus Theatre until Saturday, Mar. 13. Call 672-8800 for more information.

 

 

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