Cherry Docs | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Cherry Docs, Next Theatre Company. Apparently it's news to Canadian playwright David Gow and Next artistic director Kate Buckley that liberal Jewish lawyers feel conflicted about representing Nazis. If it's news to you, read about the Nazis' 1978 march in Skokie instead of seeing this cliched, overwrought production. Likely it's Gow's ignorance of contemporary Jewish life that causes him to treat Jews like exotica, the Hebrew Hottentot, but he can't possibly imagine it's necessary to establish a character's Jewishness by having him joke about the status of his foreskin. Buckley collaborates in this assumption of cluelessness by providing a program glossary--defining "anti-Semitism" and "defense attorney"--designed to insult any educated audience member.

Nor are matters improved by having Timothy Gregory play the lawyer. Though an able actor, he's about as suited to playing a middle-aged Jewish man as he is to playing Gypsy Rose Lee. One needn't cast a Jew in the part, of course (though why not?), but at least choose someone who can manage Yiddish and Hebrew phrases. Perhaps, though, it's the director or the writer who insists on making everything sound as foreign as possible--"Mogen David" is pronounced "Mo-GEN Da-VEED." Michael Patrick Thornton fares better as the young skinhead: he gets to throw furniture around while Gregory is stuck with tight-lipped smiles and self-congratulatory speeches about his ability to tell an Ethiopian from a Jamaican. Now if only the playwright could tell his tuchus from third base.

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