by Nicholas Linnehan
love you but I hate your mental illness!” The harsh stigma around mental
illness still plagues us today.
often have we heard someone say “I'm a little OCD when it comes to that?
But for people suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it's a very
different beast all together. Adam Strauss has the courage to let us into his
world riddled with OCD in his new autobiographical play, The Mushroom Cure. With
a very simple set, Strauss delvers his story with conviction and sincerity
making it an enjoyably heartfelt night at the theater.
play opens rather strangely with Strauss “obsessing” over the I-phone or the
I-river and we are confused momentarily until we realize that this is one of
his OCD induced episodes. As the play continues, we learn about the origin of
his battle with his disease. Strauss frankly admits to trying every type of
treatment out there, but finds no relief. One day, in his search for anything
that can help him, he finds an article that claims that use of psychedelics
found in mushrooms have had great effect on people suffering from OCD.
Determined to give anything a try, he finally gets a hold of the illegal
substance and gives it a try. What happens next is both hysterical and
frightening. Along his life path he has also found out about a 12 step
fellowship for people with OCD. Will it be the hallucinogenics or the 12 steps
that will save him?
this is only one part of the story. Intermingled is Grace, Strauss' new love
interest. The love story is palpable and its refreshing to see someone fighting
for love despite his obstacles. Unfortunately, despite Grace and Adams' love
for each other, Grace is unable to cope with Adam's OCD. Grace poignantly says
“ I love you, but hate your mental illness”, as the two part ways. The pain he
feels about losing Grace, we feel along side of him. Strauss allows us to see
his vulnerable side, which is a great strength of his and adds sincerity to the
director, Jonathan Libman works well with Strauss and the two find comedy in
this disease, which is often hard to talk about. The ability that this actor
has to laugh at himself is remarkable, and, in return, allows us to laugh at
ourselves. I wish Libman did not put so many black outs in the play, which is
only 90 minutes. The numerous black outs seem to say that Strauss is unable to
make the transitions from moment to moment on his own, but Strauss is strong
enough to take us on his journey without any technical help. Additionally,
there is one long intentional black out that works well. This makes all the
other shorter ones detract from the impact of the special one.
putting that aside, this is a powerful one man show. The proceeds go to the
Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, which adds to the message
of why we should should all go see this show. More theater needs to be created
that gives voice to these often “taboo” subjects. One can learn a lot from
seeing this show (without it ever becoming boring or didactic) and be
entertained as well. Simply put, you get the best of both worlds!
The Mushroom Cure
plays now through Aug, 7, 2016 at The Cherry Lane Theater, 38 Commerce Street.
NY, NY www.themushroomcure.com