Down the Road

Down the Road, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday; 8 p.m. Thursday, October 31; $17-$25. EMH Productions at the Geery Theatre, 2130 L Street; Through October 31. Not suitable for children.
Rated 4.0 The abyss is staring back—and smiling.

That’s the message in Lee Blessing’s Down the Road, now being staged by EMH Productions at the Geery Theatre, which asks a lot of uncomfortable questions about the nature of violence, the rise of serial killers and America’s fascination with their stories—and with the unspeakable acts of others in general.

Iris (Elise Hodge) makes her living writing “true crime” stories, though she’s never taken on a serial killer before; she’s being joined for the first time by her husband, Dan (Jake Lyall) for a book that will tell the story of the snakelike William Reach (Dustin Miller, in a role loosely based on the crimes of Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway, the “Green River Killer”). As the two writers delve deeper into the mind of the killer, their relationship and attitudes are affected—how could they not be?

Hodge and Lyall are well matched, but the heavy lifting in this show is done by Miller, whose serial killer is the guy who inhabits nightmares—and, yes, he quickly grabs the heart of the play and squeezes the hope out of it.

Down the Road, directed by Kara Ow, is a dark, dark ride. But it’s not a pointless trip. We are left to wonder if our fascination with monsters isn’t in fact the very thing that creates them in the first place.