Aug 26, 2017

Salvation Road by D.W. Gregory, a play about the cult experience

Salvation Road
Salvation Road by D.W. Gregory, a play about the cult experience, which was produced at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival by ICSA member Charles Breinig in 2009, is now available for Dramatic Publishing and available for licensing.

Written for a cast of 12 to 16 actors, the play is suitable for high schools and colleges.

The story: When a talented young musician goes underground with a strange new church, her kid brother and his best buddy are propelled into the heart of a deepening mystery. Is she a victim or an accomplice in her own disappearance? And where exactly do you draw the line between a church and a cult?


Denise Kozak was always an independent thinker, or so her family thought. A talented musician with a rebellious streak, she cultivated a passionate social conscience, to the irritation of her younger brother Cliff, 17. He was just the opposite—a bit cynical, priding himself on his calm, rational approach to the universe. Cliff’s declared philosophy: “If it doesn’t kill me, I don’t care.” But when Denise leaves for college and falls in with a charismatic church, her family and friends notice a strange shift in her personality and interests. Denise believes The True Disciples has the answer to all that life holds. She neglects her music and abandons her studies to volunteer with the church, all the while talking obsessively about the church and its founder, Reverend Douglas. Her parents’ concerns intensify when Denise refuses to come home for the holidays. When her father tries to force the issue, she declares her family a “toxic” influence to her newfound faith—and disappears. Months go by without a word, driving a rift between their parents as Cliff and his younger sister, Jill, struggle to hold it all together. Cliff pretends that he isn’t hurt that Denise cut him out of her life; Jill worries that she is somehow to blame for it. One day, Cliff’s best friend, Duffy, comes to them with the startling news that he found Denise. A chance sighting of her selling flowers at a New Jersey strip mall has convinced him that she’s in trouble and needs their help. Cliff resists at first, but Jill persuades him to start the search, a decision that propels Cliff and Duffy onto a road trip into the heart of a deepening mystery. Why would a smart and talented girl like Denise fall for the hollow promises of a preacher whose private life doesn’t line up with his public message? And where do you draw the line between faith and fanaticism? With the help of a savvy nun and a former member of The True Disciples, cynical, agnostic Cliff finds himself embarking on a spiritual search of his own.

Media Reviews

“Salvation Road offers us a thorough, well-drawn depiction of what a cult member might actually look like … and in so doing provides a satisfying and grounded dissection of youth, religiosity, family and the psychology of cults.” —Washington CityPaper

“Salvation Road keeps us engaged … because it poses questions that may well be unanswerable. The play forces us to consider our own thoughts on the bonds of family, the meaning of sacrifice, and the seeming irrationality of faith.” —Washington CityPaper

“The overall effect of Salvation Road is not unlike that of a cultish devotion: simultaneously satisfying and terrifying.” —Washington CityPaper

“It’s got some strong, touching moments, some snappy humor, and a well-informed look at the world of religious cults.” —DC Theatre Scene
“Riveting and provocative.” —DC Theatre Scene

“Thoughtful and funny … Salvation Road is a powerful little play about the opaque nature of understanding and belief.” —DC Metro Theater Arts

“Gregory manages to pack a whole lot of substance into … dialogue that’s both clever and revealing.” —DC Metro Theater Arts

“Gregory draws very bravely from sensitive autobiographical material to create a poignant, thoughtful piece.” —

“Salvation Road follows a neat narrative arc that is never too predictable, and profound themes are balanced by lighthearted moments and funny dialogue.” —

“The play stirs emotions and engenders thought that will occupy audiences long after the stage is bare.” —

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