Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"End of Road" too verbose

Cleveland Press April 3, 1971

Dobama Theater this week began its presentation of "End of the Road," a new play by Daniel Morris adapted from the novel by John Barth.

As a play the work seldom escapes from this novelistic form. It deals with a young man who has an identify problem and the role has been cast with two actors.

The intention may have been to match the double casting with the various identites, wit thought narration as opposed to exterior dialog. Sometimes it works this way, more often it doesn't.

OCCASIONALLY IT IS a crutch, one actor providing exposition from the novel instead of making the work a true adaptation.

The time is the early 1950's and the setting a small-town college. The protagonist has sought a teaching job after undergoing therapy with a unorthodox doctor. Just what the therapy is for is never fully developed but the young man is under orders to make no commitments. he is reminded that he is too unstable to assume several roles, even to do one role well.

Even under normal conditions he finds non-involvement difficult but conditions are far from normal. He is pushed into involvement by one of the teachers, a pedantic snob who bullies his wife. the husband throws the two together.

There is an affair that ends tragically. But long before that ending, too long before, there is a stream of pseudo-philosophical dialog. It is little more than verbalizing, people asking each other what they think, fencing with words and getting nowhere.

This sort of artificial, hothouse academic jargon may work in the confines of a novel but in the immediacy of the theater it more often tends to bore as well as confuse.

The Dobama company does its usual competent job and director Don Bianchi moves his actors around with ingenuity but not enough to overcome a basically static work.