Theater and Concert Reviews.
'The Mushroom Cure'
by ROBERT MASSIMI 2 years ago in REVIEWOCD MultipliedThe Mushroom Cure is a one-person, one-act only play. It is performed by Adam Strauss who presumably has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder himself. The play starts out with Strauss trying to make a decision about buying the IPOD or the I RIVER. He goes through the pros and cons of each, and he can't decide. He goes through the whole process again, and he learns towards the IPOD. After deciding on the IPOD, he buys the I RIVER. He then beats himself up over the terrible decision. Sounds funny right? It is, but there is just one problem. OCD is a real problem. As a person who has had it since I was a child, the wacky things we do is funny to people watching our corky things but it is a real problem, hence the word disorder. Strauss portrays the compulsion brilliantly. How he beats himself up for not doing things that was he indecisive about from the beginning is funny to the audience but very accurate.
The play breaks its scenes up by either changing the lighting (Jessica Elliott), or just having the stage go dark. For 90 minutes we watch Strauss go through many periods of his current life. After the I POD episode, we learn about Strauss's marijuana dealer, SLO. He is a white man who wants to be black. 80 milligrams of Lexapro is not enough to calm nor focus Adam, he needs weed to relax more. Neither the Lexapro nor weed is enough, however. He reads online about psychedelic mushrooms that not only helps, but cures OCD. He calls SLO to get this but to no avail.
Strauss soon meets a girl named Grace who is a graduate student and plans on being a psychologist. She had experimented with mushrooms when she was 16. She tells Adam that it could help him, as nothing has up to this point. Adam is a basket case. He is a comedian who finds life not funny at all. He fights with his doctor who wants him to go on a 12 step program to accept his anxiety. He attends meetings with fellow OCD groups. The only thing that seems to help him is visiting Pier 40 on the south side of New York City. He takes Grace there. He sees having sex with Grace as optimizing the situation. He talks about his old girlfriend Annie, but never relinquishes what happened to her. It has been four years since he last saw her and it stresses him out talking about her even though he needs to.
In the following scene, Strauss buys ten of exactly the same shirts. OCD makes you buy the same at an exact number. Although it has no rhyme nor reason, it's part of the disorder. So is having sex with Grace then not wanting her to stay over because the sleeping part is more intimate than the sex. His relationship with Grace is one he wants but at the same time he does not let her get to close but gets mad at her when she doesn't want to dive into the relationship. They quarrel because he stares at her noticing little things about her face. This makes Grace uncomfortable. She feels like she is constantly under the microscope. Strauss makes it clear that it is the disorder that does this, that these little nuances in her eyes or smile are detected and dissected by him.
The play concludes with Adam finding the mushrooms. A dealer breaks down the different levels of mushroom. He must try to obtain plus four in a trip to have any hope of eliminating his OCD. Plus four is the peak mystical experience. He rents a house on Martha's Vineyard so that he can go through this process in peace. Of course picking out a house is a process, much like the I POD, I River, he beats himself up at the house he picked out. He invites Grace to the "Vineyard" to trip with him. After the third trip, he calls 911 on himself. The whole scene with the first res ponders and the cops is hilarious. After his third trip, however, he returns to New York City defeated. He did not achieve level four, his OCD intensifies, and Grace leaves him for good.
For those who have seen As Good As It Gets, OCD to the casual observer is funny. To those who have OCD, it is exhausting. Even during this performance, a couple came in about 30 minutes late and Strauss was not too happy about it. A cell phone went off during the show and I thought he was going to break the lady's cell phone over her head!
Strauss makes the audience aware of the disorder. From the yelling to the beating himself up, he ge's the message across. In conjunction with a medical field, he is working on eradicating this disorder through hallucinogenics. Adam Strauss did very well to project the everyday pains of OCD, that every day can be annoying with this disorder. He shows how one cannot relax or enjoy the moment. What should be enjoyable, like sex, is a whole ordeal. That buying clothes can be a real pain as well. He professes that the simplest things become very complex and that no decision is the right one, that you obsess over what you decide. He showed that you obsess over obsessing.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Lexapro, weed, I POD, The Vineyard, Martha's Vineyard, Strauss, Grace, Marijuana, mushrooms, St. Marks Theater, Pier 40, New York City, Nervous.