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The Road to Hell



Meg Boot Kate Lynch

Lorne Rubenstein Michael Healey


Joyce Kate Lynch

Dennis Michael Healey

With two fall shows at two major Toronto theaters, Chi’s Steppenwolf planning a production of one for next April and producer David Mirvish interested for his next season, playwright Michael Healey is suddenly a name to be reckoned with.”The Road to Hell,” at the Tarragon Theater, where Healey is playwright-in-residence, is actually two one-acts: “Yodellers” was a hit at Toronto’s Fringe Festival, while “Kreskinned” is a new work. Both are co-authored and acted with Kate Lynch, Healey’s real-life partner.In “Yodellers” Lynch is a lesbian pro golfer and Healey is a golf journalist on one of Canada’s daily papers. He arrives at her motel the day prior to her first big win in 16 years, eager for a story. He gets the story and the girl – sort of. How the characters work out a meaningful relationship within the confines of their conflicting sexualities is hilarious, with the authors making much of a supposed “Lesbian Player List” that is circulated among the press.”Kreskinned” is equally off-center. Healey and Lynch are on a first date, during which they participate in a hypnosis session held by the Amazing Kreskin. The problem is, the code words that induce the trance somehow stick and the two find themselves putting each other under, at first by accident and later on purpose.There are uproarious scenes in which the characters get to take back what they’ve just said by erasing the conversation from the other’s memory. The gimmick has a beneficial, if somewhat unconventional, effect on their sexual relationship.For the most part, Healey and Lynch carry it off – there is a comfort level between them that makes it fun to watch, and the minds that spawned these stories are adept at bringing them to life onstage.The problem is that both plays ultimately promise more than they deliver. The ideas are clever, the humor plentiful, but the characters still have the feel of sketch comedy. “Yodellers,” in particular, deserves more because it touches on some serious issues. It’s almost there – one comes close to actually caring about their relationship. But the kooky always outwits the emotional.It’s a problem that Healey’s earlier Fringe show, “Kicked, ” managed to avoid when it transferred to the main season last year: The subject matter – a young girl’s murder – was hardly the stuff of laughs, and the characters Healey created and performed in the solo show were deeply realized. A little more of that depth would serve these plays, making them more than comic throwaways.

The Road to Hell

(Comedy; Tarragon TheatEr;205 seats; C$ 27 ($ 18 top)

Production: TORONTO A Tarragon Theater presentation of two one-act plays by Michael Healey and Kate Lynch. Directed by Andy McKim. Set and costumes, Ken Garnhum.

Crew: Lighting, John Thompson. Opened, reviewed Sept. 21, 1999. Running time: 2 HOURS, 15 MIN.

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