Cherry Docs, adapted from Montreal native David Gow’s original play, raises some important questions about our society and the underlying hatred and discrimination within it.
This production was directed by Glen Cairns, artistic director at The Other Theatre Company. It keeps true to the multicultural theme, and the idea that perhaps being tolerant is not the only resolution to prejudice, but finding love in our hearts for others is. The use of music portrays a large portion of this theme, showcasing the change in seasons, the passing of time and the growth the characters must face to become better people. Unfortunately, this message was sometimes lost in between lines of dialogue that were poorly executed by the actors.
Daniel Dunkelman, a Jewish lawyer played by Todd Sullivan, is assigned to defend neo-Nazi Micheal Downy who is on trial for murder. He decides to take on this case as a personal challenge and because he needs the money. Sullivan takes an interesting and sometimes underwhelming approach to this character who learns he may not be as tolerant as he thought he was. Overall, Sullivan’s performance was consistently ordinary and relatable. He makes many trying attempts to bring a sense of humanity to the character.
Micheal Downy, played by Nigel Beardwood, is the stereotypical racist who commits a hate crime against a Hindu man. His character arc comes across as shallow, as his emotions go from angry to sad to regretful. Beardwood gives a convincing performance and gives the audience an honest reason to dislike his character. However, his revelation in the final scenes comes across as preachy and unconvincing. Nevertheless, Beardwood did manage to create some nice moments of mortality, but overall he was unable to make me care about his character or the “psychological torture” he was enduring.
The set design and costumes on this production were basic and to the point. The direction was minimal, and forced the audience to mostly use their imaginations. The lighting was at first very interesting, with harsh shadows to create a dramatic effect, but it became boring and tired by the end of the final act.
Cherry Docs opened Thursday, Jan. 7 at the Pavilion Theatre and will run until Jan. 24. Regular admission is $24 and the student and senior price is $18.50. On Sundays the matinee shows will be pay-what-you-can.