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THE MUSHROOM CURE
"The Mushroom Cure" by Adam Strauss, directed by Jonathan Libman
at the Cherry Lane Studio Theatre, 38 Commerce St., NYC.
July 16 – Aug. 13, 2016. Tuesday through Sunday (Tuesdays at 7 PM, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM Tickets are $25 ($18 for July 12th sneak peek), available from OvationTix at 212-352-3101 and www.cherrylanetheatre.org.
By Glenda Frank
We have fallen in love with Otherness, with the LGBTQ world, with amnesiacs and bi-polar schizophrenics, with anyone who can see or present the world from a unique perspective. What once represented our collective fears now has our attention and – in NY at least – our respect. Often we hear the narratives through the voices of observers (journalists, scientists like Oliver Sacks, author/directors like Christopher Nolan in “Memento,” novelists like Sylvia Nasar who wrote “A Beautiful Mind” ). But sometimes actual members of the community discover a way to share their stories. When they are as quick-witted and sharp as stand-up comedian Adam Strauss, they can transform their disability into the stuff of poignancy and comedy.
“The Mushroom Cure,” a story of love, quest, and loss, has had a welcomed run, from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award for Solo Performance, to its current extended run at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Strauss conflates both the difficulties of living with his illness and a young man’s search for true love. He’s a funny guy with intelligent insights, a clever way with words, and a charismatic delivery -- all of which help him mask the several weak sections of the uneven 90 minute script, which could easily shed 10 minutes.
His journey begins when he reads an article in a scientific journal about a magic mushroom cure for OCD, but Slo, his drug dealer, knows of no one with a stash. Love arrives more quickly when he spots a woman outside the Hershey Store at Times Square while he's barking up audiences for his show that night. She attends and the rest is romance. She’s a psychology student from Kansas who recognizes his OCD and dives in anyway. He offers her a return ticket to NY.
The most fascinating segments are his vivid descriptions of OCD, his therapist, and his ‘sroom induced hallucinations. The latter are made vivid and surreal -- good theatre. But his problem making decisions is the real draw, because it’s you and me only magnified. He’s walking down the shady side of a street on a Spring day. But maybe he should be walking on the sunny side to get Vitamin D. So he crosses. But he has no sunblock, exposing him to harmful rays. So he crosses again. He is over an hour late to work. Or take his shirt. He’s performing so it has to look good. He tries on shirt after shirt, noticing each imperfection. He shops for 10 identical new shirts, then returns for an 11th. And still the shirts don’t look right. As for his therapist and 12-step support group – Well, go see the show!
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