John Hefner takes his audience on a coast-to-coast highway adventure bound for … well, nowhere in his one-man performance of The Road to Nowhere.
This is no Greyhound bus trip. It’s an “adventure” guided by Hefner’s plan to drive from his Bethesda home in a minivan to visit his anarchist “girlfriend” in Vancouver while carrying the ashes of his deceased father.
He plans to scatter the ashes, but he wants to wait until he returns home from Vancouver. Meanwhile, he takes them with him in a box while he visits landmarks like the St. Louis Arch, the Grand Canyon and the Playboy mansion of his second cousin Hugh Hefner.
Problems arise along the way. There’s a flat tire, a nose bleed and a craving for pie that leads him to a pie store in Baxter, Kansas, only to find it is closed.
The girlfriend, who Hefner describes as an “angry anarchist sex store worker in Canada,” is the biggest problem. She jilts him as he gets closer to Vancouver. “I just feel guilty not being in a relationship with anyone who is a member of an oppressed minority,” she tells him on the telephone.
A subsequent phone call as he gets closer to Vancouver gives him another hint of turmoil. “All cops are Nazis,” she tells him. When he disagrees, she flies into a rage. The final blow comes when he tells her he passed some hitchhiking hippies on the road in California. She becomes angered that he did not stop to help them out. “You are so selfish,” she tells him. After another outburst, “Click, she hangs up on me.”
Although his trip ends in heartbreak at his brother’s home in Seattle during a snowstorm, be assured, it’s not the end of the adventure.
Hefner does a good job of keeping up the tempo of his monologue. His vignettes are witty, well-told and touching for their misguided sincerity. He strings them along in a way that avoids getting bogged down in too much detail.
However, it is a monologue and it is an hour long. Some of the images he displays on a screen are about as exciting as a department store postcard. There’s no action, interaction or music.
You may have seen Hefner’s one-man shows at Fringe before – The Hefner Monologue and How Hefnerian, and he’s performed at 14 Fringe Festivals across the country. Hefner’s experience as an actor is obvious as he carries the monologue forward seamlessly.
Anyone who likes offbeat stories about train-wrecked vacations might enjoy The Road to Nowhere.
The Road to Nowhere has 4 more performances at Goethe Institute Mainstage, 812 7th Street NW, Washington, DC.
Tom rates this 3 out of 5
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