Down The Road frankly discusses society's obsession with, and often blatant eroticizing of, serial killers. Lee Blessing's disturbing play about two married journalists writing a book about such a killer reveals the inner life of the charismatic and narcissistic Bill Reach (Brian Luna), as he tells his story to Dan and Iris Hemmant (Jeff Karr and Chantel Gonzalez). Dan's almost sick fascination with Bill, and desire to uncover every unsavory detail, clashes with Iris's fear and repulsion. The assignment unravels their marriage.
The story alternates between Bill's cell, where Dan and Iris interview him each day, and Dan and Iris's motel room on a desolate strip of highway. It is difficult to say which room was more unpleasant, for pseudonymous set and lighting designer "George Spelvin" ingeniously used the most uncomfortable-looking furnishings and unflattering lighting to create a truly depressing room for Dan and Iris. Although New Yorkers Dan and Iris are clearly out of their element in the seedy environment, Bill seems to revel in his prison surroundings and the attention he is receiving. Although Bill has been convicted of 19 murders of young women, he seems unsatisfied with his grisly accomplishment and begins to embellish the stories of the murders, even adding a few more victims to his list. His retelling of necrophiliac sexual exploits with an 11-year-old girl finally pushes the pregnant Iris to the limit, and she wants to abandon the project. Dan decides to stay.
The three actors tackled their complicated roles with passion and commitment. Ms. Gonzalez skillfully balanced the probing author's tenacity and Iris's softer side in a touching performance. Mr. Karr's driven, perfectionistic Dan effectively communicated his troubled psychological state as he puts the book before his marriage and unborn child. Brian Luna was a handsome, sexual Bill, with a movie-star smile and wholesome charm. Luna brilliantly conveyed Bill's radical mood swings, veering from endearing boyishness to terrifying anger, which seemed to come out of nowhere.
Tanya Klein directed her talented cast with sensitivity and a taut nervous energy.
Although the costumes were uncredited, they were so unattractive
as to detract from the otherwise high quality of the performance.
Dan and Iris are sophisticated New Yorkers, yet they were dressed
like a blue-collar couple at a mall.
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Copyright 1999 Julie Halpern