Cherry Docs: steel-toed and heavy-handed

Cave Canem is presenting Cherry Docs at Pacific Theatre.

John Voth and Kenton Klassen paper over some script issues in the legal drama Cherry Docs. (Photo by Jason Benson)

 

Guest review by David Johnston

It’s a good production and, when the script occasionally gets out of its own way, it becomes great.

In Cave Canem’s latest outing, neo-Nazi skinhead Mike (Kenton Klassen) has stomped a Hindu man to death; liberal Jewish lawyer Danny (John Voth) is assigned as his counsel. They obviously don’t like each other, but Mike needs Danny to save him from a lengthy prison sentence and Danny needs Mike to… honestly, Danny’s initial impulse for taking the case is never quite clarified. As a challenge? An obsession? Danny needs Mike because if Danny didn’t need Mike, there’d be no show. Get on board.

What follows is … not exactly a legal procedural, although Cherry Docs dresses up in a procedural jumpsuit and struts around for a while. That’s actually a good thing; law dramas have become ridonkulously prolific since the play’s 1998 debut, so it’s swell that this isn’t merely the rote story of an amateur lawyer defending a client he hates. Sure, David Gow’s script tells that story, but it’s in the background of the real plot.

This isn’t How To Acquit A Skinhead 101. The murder victim is left nameless (a deeply uncomfortable decision) and the legal machinations are presented as an afterthought, so the show can focus on the feelings of two straight white men. (Incidentally, this is the point where Cherry Docs feels most dated; an odd-couple legal drama written today would likely find slightly more diverse starting positions for its two protagonists.) [Read more…]

The Lonesome West: Will it leave you more lonesome?

Martin McDonagh wrote The Lonesome West.

In The Lonesome West, brothers Valene and Coleman repeatedly threaten to kill each another. It’s a comedy. (Photo by Mark Reznek)

The Lonesome West is about forgiveness—kind of, if you squint. But I do not forgive The Lonesome West.

Martin McDonagh’s 1997 script is part of a trilogy that also includes The Beauty Queen of Leenane and A Skull in Connemera. All three are set in Leenane, a particularly hopeless and murderous little village on Ireland’s west coast. McDonagh plays his characters’ despair for laughs, which can be a remarkably productive strategy. [Read more…]

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