A dark drama about a serial killer and a pair of writers interviewing him for a book presents an unnerving play, by Lee Blessing, “Down the Road,” that takes the audience inside the psyche of the animal-instinct mind of a death row inmate.
“Down the Road” produced and directed by Andy Perkins with help from Trevor Belt runs through June 1 at 8 p.m. in The Buffalo Room in back of Westport Flea Market, in the Westport area of Kansas City, Missouri. The show opened May 21.
As the serial murderer, Andy Perkins, delves deep to bring a macabre fascination to the lead character, Bill Reach. Accompanying him onstage are Kaitlynn Elizabeth and Joshua Gleeson as Iris and Dan Henniman, two writers examining his interviews with them in hopes of publishing a best-seller. They probe the killer’s mind for clues and emotional connections he established before slicing and dicing his victims.
Reach claims 19 victims, but the team of interviewers believe him to be hiding some and try tricking and luring him to divulge more. Reach wants all the publicity for himself and seeks immortality for his heinous terror path. He strangled some; he stabbed some; he decapitated some; he raped them; he crushed some skulls with rocks; he hit some in the head with a hammer–no emotional involvement with any.
Perkins shines as the dark knight of destruction and depravity. He sneers at the interviews and attempts to control them as well. Some of his dialogue shows the deep, dark emotionlessness of his soul as he attempts to shock the writers. “Is it rape if she’s already dead?” He even discusses oral sex with victims after saving their head for his sexual pleasures. He discusses with a smirk the odor after the bodies begin to decompose. He’s a sick-minded murderer.
Working as a team to get his story, Gleeson and Elizabeth are very strong actors who respond well to his tortured verbalization of his actions. They meet after each session to decompress and put aside the darkness they experienced via Reach. They are the cement that holds the piece together. They perform very well as they react to the death row inmate.
The show is a deeply disturbing and dark piece. The one flaw is the choppiness of short scenes at the beginning of the play. The staging and set are great and work to minimize the choppiness, but the script just does not allow for smooth transitions. It’s akin to night verses day with no dawn or dusk to buffer the extremes. Still the piece is a dramatic wonder.
The characters and play are very solid and worthy of bigger audiences in its limited run. To find out more, visit The Buffalo Room, adjoining Westport Flea Market, 817 Westport Road, Kansas City, MO 64111.