Belated but relevent PlayRites coverage

By Karoline Czerski

Down the Main Drag starts and someone disappears on the kitchen floor. I didn’t see it and the cast didn’t believe it, save for Him, who claims that’s what happened.

Him, played fabulously by Jeff Lillico, finds himself bewildered and confused on that morning as his father lies on the kitchen floor, and disappears into the unknown. The Family (Heather Lea MacCallum) confirms his father is dead, while The Whole Town (Valerie Planche), Uncle (David LeReaney), even Loverboy (Trevor Leigh) don’t hesitate to agree.

But Him is so convincing in his belief his father simply wasn’t dead on the kitchen floor, but instead disappeared to somewhere else, that for a moment we begin to wonder where he really went.

“There must be more than this,” Him repeats, while the others echo, “that’s it, that’s all.”

The play progresses at a somewhat choppy pace and the allegorical characters play off of each other with due charm. Loverboy provides sharp comedic relief with an ignorant, deadpan and quick delivery, while Uncle both annoys us and steels our sympathy perfectly. A flustered Pal (Tara Hughes) does more to annoy than to please, but she does so with such sincerity that even Him is convinced.

Playwright Steve LaPlante traps his characters in an allegorical world that doesn’t venture off the Main Drag, making them think there’s nothing past that street stretching across town. Everything would be perfect, except Him isn’t convinced.

Whether he’s trying to fight the existentialist rationality of those around him, or the complacent acceptance of death and life that comes with adulthood and experience, Him provokes a sense of uncertainty in the certain, questioning difficult issues most of us will never come to terms with.

The playwright wisely chose a simple and detached approach to a difficult issue. A play on the disappearance of a human being walks a fine line between emotional and emotion overload, but Down the Main Drag knew where it was going.

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