Writer & Director: Ed Roy
Originally Produced By: Topological Theatre/LKTYP 2008

Story: Cory Portias and Tiga Chi hang out every day after school in Cory’s Basement playing a violent video game called Lethal Revenge, an interactive game inspired by highly popular Grand Theft Auto game. The premise of Lethal Revenge is predicated on the player taking on the role of an inner-city vigilante seeking revenge on virtual characters that have perpetrated “crimes” against the players’ virtual character. The virtual characters that the player hunts are comprised of a local drug lord, his henchmen, the police, and a host of human collateral including hookers and innocent bystanders. Cory and Tiga have nearly mastered the game using it as an outlet for the rage and frustration they feel in their everyday lives.

Cory lives with his father Mike Portias, a once successful small business whose life has taken an unfortunate downward spiral due to bad business choices combined with compulsive gambling and alcohol abuse. Cory can remember a time when he looked up to his father but since his mother died five year ago that admiration has disintegrated into animosity due to his father’s behavior which at times includes physical abuse.

Tiga is also dealing with his own familial frustrations. Tiga’s parents have been going through a trial separation due to the discovery by Tiga’s mother of her husband’s illicit affair with another woman. Tiga and his younger brother Paul are conflicted and disappointed by their father’s behavior and the toll it has taken on their mother and the security of their family.

One day in a local park Tiga hooks up with Andrew Macy while trying out their Skateboard moves at the Tunnel, a Skateboarding hangout under a bridge located in the park.

Andrew’s family situation is stable but not without its problems. Andrew’s father Will Macy is a strict disciplinarian and keeps Andrew on a very short leash and an early curfew. Will wants his son to be successful in school and envisions a bright future for his him as a future lawyer, doctor, or some other well respected profession. Andrew has other ideas for his future possibly pursuing a professional Skateboarding/Snowboarding career or even possibly music. Andrew’s mother has tried to be supportive of his dreams however she basically follows her husband’s wishes.

Tiga is so impressed by Andrew’s mastery of the Skateboard and they strike up a conversation. When Tiga learns that Andrew is a big fan of Lethal Revenge he invites him over to Cory’s place to play a game. When Andrew arrives with Tiga at Cory’s place the three boys bond over a few games of Lethal Revenge and the three of them strike up a tentative friendship.

The few days later after school Andrew meets up with his girlfriend Megan Bragg. Andrew and Megan have been seeing each other since a field trip their class took two months earlier.

Andrew has kept his relationship with Megan a secret from his parents and basically lies to them when he makes plans to see her. Megan is an emotionally needy girl raised primarily by her mother. Megan’s relationship with her mother is rife with conflict due to her mother’s struggle with depression and a growing dependence on pharmaceutical drugs. Megan’s mother Cheryl was once a beautiful and successful model however after her marriage to Megan’s father broke down and her modeling career came to an end she abandoned Megan emotionally. Now after six year of this dysfunctional relationship with her mother Megan has developed low self esteem issues and is emotionally co-dependent.

Andrew tells Megan about his new friends and invites her over to Cory’s basement. After some initial tension Cory and Tiga accept Megan because of her knowledge and passable skill of the Lethal Revenge game.

As the plot progresses the teenagers continue to meet in Cory’s basement and share their daily frustrations with school, lack of money, and their parents. Cory is particularly disturbed by the escalation of his father’s verbal and physical abuse due to his drunken binges. On one pivotal afternoon the teens gather at Cory’s place wondering why he wasn’t at school that day. When Cory lets them in it is clear that he has received a brutal beating at the hands of his father. The beating was the result of Cory’s negative reaction to his father’s announcement that he was planning for them to move to Vancouver for better job opportunities. Cory has no desire to leave his school and friends and firmly believes that the move will not change their financial situation in fact he fears it will spin totally out of control because of his father’s increasing dependence on alcohol.

Cory launches into a game of Lethal Revenge and substitutes the names of his victims for his father’s. Cory engages his friends in his fantasy of killing his father in a Lethal Revenge still murder. The gang gets into a discussion of what Cory should do. Andrew suggests he should report his father to the police and Megan suggests social services but Cory rejects both ideas stating that he wished he could just kill his father because he didn’t deserve to live. This sparks a discussion of what kind of person deserves to live, each of the teens agreeing and disagreeing on their personal view of the value of human life.

On the following weekend the three boys plan to raid Cory’s father’s liquor stash while he is away on a potential business trip. The boys are drunk and rough-housing when Cory’s father arrives back home unexpectedly. Cory and his father get into an argument which quickly turns violent. Andrew and Tiga try to stop the fight and manage to restrain Cory’s father for a few moments however when he breaks free Cory smashes his skull with the base of a lamp. Cory in fact goes into what psychologist’s term as ‘overkill and pummels his father’s skull with fourteen blows. Cory quickly grabs some cash and other valuables and then he, Andrew, and Tiga flee the scene of the murder. Later in a park Cory swears Andrew and Tiga to secrecy and concocts an alibi. Tiga will tell his mother that he asked if Cory could stay over for the weekend weeks ago and this is the weekend. Andrew heads home as Cory and Tiga leave for Tiga’s place.

Megan learns of the death of Cory’s over a local newscast and she immediately calls Andrew and asks if he’s heard anything about it and they plan to meet. When Megan meets Andrew he is nervous and distracted. She knows something is wrong and after some coaxing Andrew swears her to secrecy, and tells her about what happened and his involvement in it.

Soon the police are involved and each of the boys is questioned and eventually their confidence begins to unravel.

When Andrew sees Megan again she can see a dramatic change in him and knows that he is wracked with guilt and remorse. She tries to convince Andrew to save himself and turn Cory before its too late and she might lose him but to no avail

While the police begin questioning each of the boys the boys plan a secret meeting and their loyalty to each other and their concern for their own personal survival becomes the catalyst for a heated conflict that almost turns violent. With their trust for each other and personal futures hanging in the balance the boys renew their pledge to protect each other and stick to their agreed upon story.

From this point on the play revolves around how each of the teenager’s deals with the knowledge of Cory’s father death, their personal survival, and their loyalty to each other.
The stakes are very high for each of the teenagers including Megan who also knows what really happened on the night of Cory’s father death and is torn between her need to protect Andrew and her growing fear that she will lose him if he doesn’t tell the police that Cory was actually responsible for the murder.

As the pressure of the external and internal conflict increases one of the teenager’s finally makes the decision to confess and tells the police the truth.

Ed Roy’s Playwright’s Notes: I believe that if you want to gauge a society’s mores and values all one has to do is observe it’s young people and their behavior because they are the mirror which reflects every society’s core values. My inspiration for writing Dead Ahead was just this kind of observation. In the past ten years I noted the increase in news stories locally and across the national reporting on cases of teenagers committing murders and their friends colluding in their attempts to conceal their involvement in the crime. What fascinated me was the fact that the teenagers involved in these horrific crimes often felt justified in perpetrating the crime and their friends felt their loyalty to their peer group superseded their obligation to obey the law. This illustrated to me that the value of life, in the minds of these young people, had no real meaning beyond their own self-centered fixation with their own quality of life. Often the victim in many of these cases appeared to be nothing more than an irritating obstacle standing in the way of the young perpetrator’s desire to be free of an unfortunate familial situation, or to seek revenge, or merely to reinforce their own status within their peer group. As for their young accomplices who assisted in covering up the crimes it illustrated their lack of identification with the mores that are the glue that hold societies together. Young people are saturated with violent and sexist images in the media, TV, movies, videos, and very directly through inter-active computer video games. Are these images desensitizing them to violence? Is our society’s own fixation with materialism and the cult of the individual alienating young people from feeling connected to the moral codes that we identify as civilized behavior? These were some of the questions I asked myself while I was writing Dead Ahead and I thought the best route to take was not to attempt to answer these questions but to hold up a mirror. I hope what is reflected stirs discussion, debate, and most importantly some insight into a growing schism between the values of young people and society as a whole.