BWW Reviews: Everyone Needs to Experience POLICE DEAF NEAR FAR Bringing Deaf Culture to Life On Stage
Sometimes there is a show that is impossible to give an adequate and deserving review about. Police Deaf Near Far, the Michigan premiere collaboration between TerpTheatre and Oakland University Theatre, is one of these shows. This production is amazing in all aspects and needs to be experienced by every theatre person, actually every human being, who exists, whether they are experienced with deaf culture or not. The extremely talented cast brings to life a show that is brutally honest with an emotional intensity that touches anyone who sees it while educating them about deaf culture at the same time.
Police Deaf Near Far is an extraordinary show that mixes speaking words and sign language, which is done by both deaf and hearing actors. The show centers around two deaf men and a hearing girl that is a sign language interpreter and the life interactions they have in private and in the public world. The play also shows how the police are instructed on how to deal with a person who had a disability and what happens when those encounters occur.
Daniel Durant plays Stinger, a deaf man who wants to make a difference for deaf culture. Durant is a fantastic actor, in which every movement and motion he makes as Stinger is felt by audience. His emotional body language and facial expressions let the audience connect with his character easily and really understand him, as much as the play allows them through out.
Gill Cooper plays Roberta and this tiny girl is a fierce powerhouse on stage. Roberta can hear but works as an interpreter and Cooper's transitions between speaking and signing are flawless. Never once does her ability waiver and her fine acting skills make the audience feel for Roberta and connect with her.
Garrett Zuercher is Chad, the other deaf lead male. There is no other way to describe Zuercher but as a fascinating actor to watch. His Chad is so honest, so real, that the audience feels every struggle that he faces. He makes wise decisions with his acting that are effective and believable, which keep the audience constantly captivated with his character.
Zuercher and Durant are deaf and working with a hearing cast from Oakland University and shadow signers from TerpTheatre, but watching the show there is no competition between the two groups, nor can they be compared at who is better in the production. Every aspect of the show was very well done by director Karen Sheridan and not once was there a moment of confusion or just focus on a the speaking or the signing, it was a complete collaboration with equal attention to both. The deaf actors and the hearing actors shared the stage, and really shared it with each one bringing something special to it. The transitions between moments of talking and moments of signing were flawless and the impacts of them were definitely felt. The choice of minimal sets and props was perfect to really emphasize what was important - the important story the characters were trying to tell.
The story that Police Deaf Near Far tells is an significant one and educates the audience on the deaf culture. David Rush wrote a show that needs to be experience and this cast makes this production a perfect one. Durant and Zuercher are fascinating to watch on stage and seeing them communicate fluidly and vividly without any words is astounding. Cooper, who shares her role in alternating performance dates with Anna Wyatt, is effective in her acting choices whether she is signing or speaking and really helps connect the audience to being a person with hearing and signing abilities who is living in both worlds. The rest of the cast helps round the show out with a strong impact that of emotions that a makes the audience truly think about their own lives and the importance of deaf culture.