Total Rating: 
December 7, 2017
January 7, 2018
New York
New York
Theater Type: 
80 St. Marks
Theater Address: 
80 St. Marks Place
Running Time: 
990 min
Adam Strauss
Jonathan Libman

The Mushroom Cure is an extended autobiographical monologue — 90 minutes — written and performed by Adam Strauss and directed by Jonathan Lib-man, currently playing at Theatre 80 St. Mark’s, Off-off-Broadway. It centers on Strauss’s attempts to treat his OCD through psychedelics, and his concurrent ro-mance with a woman named Grace. The two stories are intertwined as Strauss ex-plores psychedelics and the personal relationship. He meets Grace when he’s re-searching drugs, and she accompanies him to Martha’s Vineyard to take the magic mushrooms.

Libman understands the particular challenges of a solo show, and he deals with them with intelligence and precision. The performance has a nice va-riety, with clear differentiation between intimacy and humor, and there’s a living rhythm to the whole thing.

Strauss, who’s very talented, is at his best when ex-pressing — and reliving — the experience of making a decision in the presence of OCD. He bounces violently between the one choice and the other. His work overall is meticulous and polished. He has varied and expressive vocal and physical lives, a committed moment-to-moment stage life and a commanding presence.

But there are problems here. The first concerns the script, which spends far too much time on a routine love story and not enough on Strauss’ hallucinogenic experi-ments.

The other problems concern the performance. The first is conceptual. Strauss usually relates the story without irony, without commenting on it in his act-ing. A script is animated by the tension between the words and the acting, and this show often lacks that tension.

And Strauss has technical problems with deliv-ery. He doesn’t place characters in conversation, that is, he doesn’t look to his right when he’s speaking the words of one character and to his left when he’s speaking the words of the other. Worse, he almost never makes eye contact with us when he’s talking to us; he looks over our heads.

The Mushroom Cure is appreciated, and it’s been well received. Still, the solo show is a challenging form that the production hasn’t entirely mastered.

Adam Strauss
Steve Capra
Date Reviewed: 
December 2017