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Gritty and provoking, Cherry Smoke explores life on the edge of homelessness in poverty-stricken areas of rural America but doesn’t leave much hope for the future.
Thrown into the boxing ring at 9 years old, Fish grows into a deadly amateur fighter with a short fuse. Girlfriend Cherry is his only source of calm and tenderness, but each time Fish ends up in gaol or in trouble, she loses a bit of herself to him. Meanwhile, Duffy, and his girlfriend, Bug just want to live their lives, free of worry about what trouble Fish will get himself into next.
As a story, Cherry Smoke came across as leaning too much on the tired trope of the traumatised, violent man and the woman who futilely tries to save him. This doesn’t take away from the compelling direction of Charlie Vaux, who really has you convinced that you’re sitting caravan park by a river in rural Pennsylvania, but it did make me uncomfortable considering the conversation going on in Australia around domestic violence and toxic masculinity
The four cast members are excellent in their respective roles. Tom Dawson and Meg Hyeronimus as Fish and Cherry respectively are the epitome of star-crossed lovers, and you feel their pain as they struggle to find their way. Fraser Crane and Alice Birbara as Duffy and Bug are the opposite, their interactions a balm to the friction of Fish and Cherry’s relationship. The familial chemistry of Fish and Duffy adds a further layer, their playful, brotherly banter a further pierce to the heart as Fish’s stumbles hurt those he loves. All are levelled some pretty intense, verbose monologues, some of which probably weren’t needed to further the plot, but all inject them with authenticity and heart.
Edgy yet minimalistic set design by Soham Apte, lighting by Jasmin Borsovszky and sound design by Johnny Yang contribute to building the world in which Fish, Cherry, Duffy and Bug live and enveloping us in it. If you’re a fan of American dustbowl stories, it may be a world for you.
Purchase your ticket to Cherry Smoke here.
Nebbiolo | Wine Pairing
There’s a common thread of cherry smoke as a source of hope, so for this wine pairing I’ve sought out a wine that offers prominent cherry note – and for cherry, you can’t go past the deliciously bold, spicy Nebbiolo
My Pick: Little Giant Little Batch 2018 Nebbiolo, Heathcote, NSW
If the cute lil wombat on the label isn’t enough to sway you, the rich red and black cherry notes and white pepper will in this delectable drop.
Cherry Smoke, CrissCross Productions| Tasting Notes
|Aussie Season||24 Mar to 8 Apr 2023, CrissCross Productions, KXT on Broadway, Sydney NSW|
|Theatre Type & Genre||Play, Drama|
|See it if you like||gritty dramas, Fight Club|
|Criteria for Wine Pairing||cherry notes, medium to full body|