Around The Town

Grabbing the Hammer Lane: A Trucker Narrative 

By: Alix Cohen

April 13, 2024: The hammer lane is the one used for passing. Truckers in North America came up with the term which references slamming the accelerator with a foot like hammer.

By: Alix Cohen

April 13, 2024: The hammer lane is the one used for passing. Truckers in North America came up with the term which references slamming the accelerator with a foot like hammer.

Matt Cooke is in a therapy session. Skeptical, agitated, propelled by undisclosed hurt and anger, he’s aware of needing help. The former actor describes his route to a trucking job and an aversion to authority that makes the latter volatile. Whenever challenged, Matt quotes a company manual like the Bible. None of his so-called superior’s have read it.

Repeatedly called into arbitration, he emerges victorious, sometimes watching others get fired after altercation. “I got nothin’ but love from the locals – not so much from management.” Description of the way he prepped and took on HR is low key, but vivid. We cheer this clever underdog who quotes Shakespeare to surprised mediators.

The protagonist grew up with a strict, disparaging adoptive father from whom he grew alienated. We morph back and forth from past home life to present therapy, from Clarence Cooke, Sr. to Matt. “Your mama saved you from a whole lotta whippin” takes no account of the abuse Matt did suffer. Stories of the boy’s malfeasance, however, evince a contemporary Huckleberry Finn.

David M. Proctor as Clarence Cooke, Sr.

Several perspectives of a trucking accident offer a glimpse of the job. The definition of hammer lane is neatly interwoven. Also deftly plaited is Matt’s belief in God, remorse for self destructive behavior, and guilt for abandoning his parents until successively too old and ill to mend relations. “Maybe I never learned how to bond,” the patient mutters to himself.

Several subjects raised by the doctor are at first put aside, but realistic narrative has Matt circle back when he’s ready. Respective last scenes with mom and dad are adroitly cinematic. Proctor successfully adheres to the adage less is more. “I got a real shot at redemption,” Matt tells his dad – too late to complete the process.

Actor/writer/director David M. Proctor spent 30 years as a long distance trucker after training at The American Conservatory Theater. The multi-talent artist employs all this experience in his solo show. Wrapped in verisimilitude, the piece arrives without a false moment. Proctor is clearly at home on stage. Characters are physically and aurally specific. Cooke Sr.’s idioms fit age and upbringing. His accent is subtly stronger than Matt’s.

Use of CB radio voice over to preface each segment is not only atmospheric, but maintains momentum. Proctor uses the stage with motivated variation. Pacing allows us to watch thought and emotion develop. One hopes the artist continues writing as well as acting.

United Solo presents
Grabbing the Hammer Lane: A Trucker Narrative
Written and Acted by David M. Proctor
Directed by David M. Proctor and Marlon Burnley

Photos Courtesy of David M. Proctor
Opening: Proctor as Matt Cooke

Theater Row 
410 West 42nd Street
United Solo Spring 
Submissions now Accepted for United Solo Fall Season