“Mushroom Cure”

Susan Granger’s review of “Mushroom Cure” (Off-Broadway at Theater 80 St. Marks)


Inspired by a scientific study showing that hallucinogenic mushrooms may cure obsessive-compulsive disorders, performer/writer Adam Strauss decided to devote himself to a program of what he calls “vigilante psychopharmacology.”

Riffing somewhat endlessly on the difference between an IPod and an IRiver, he obviously finds making a choice of players more difficult than most consumers. Even deciding what side of the street to walk on often presents a debilitating conundrum.

Women present even more of a problem. When he falls for Grace, a visiting student from Kansas, whom he encounters while working as a show barker in Times Square, he invites her to watch him perform at a comedy club. As a romantic relationship develops, she becomes involved in his clinical condition – which eventually leads her to question whether they have a future together.

Over the course of 90 minutes, Strauss reveals perhaps more than anyone ever wanted to know about obtaining drugs, including psychedelic cacti which requires circuitous preparation before ingesting, and dealing with an unorthodox community of chemists, including Slo, who works at a sloth’s pace.

As a result, Strauss’s more banal ramblings caused a couple of audience members to nod off.

Having achieved widespread accolades at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this unique show made its debut at the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won the Overall Excellence Award for Solo Performances.  In the summer of 2016, it played at The Cherry Lane Theater, followed by an 11-week run at San Francisco’s Marsh Theater.

It’s astutely directed by Jonathan Libman, who is currently writing and directing for Amy Schumer’s ensemble company The Collective.

And on Sunday, Dec. 16, there was a fascinating talkback with Adam Strauss and Ingmar Gorman, one of the foremost experts on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. They discussed the promises and pitfalls of using these drugs for conditions like depression, OCD and PTSD, referring to clinical trials, including the FDA trials for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD that Gorman is currently leading in New York.

“Mushroom Cure” runs through January 7, 2018. Shows are Wednesday thru Saturday at 7:30 pm with added performances on Dec. 26 at 7:30 pm, Dec. 29 & 30 at 10 pm, and January 7th at 5 pm.

Tickets are $35 and available from Ovation Tix at 212-352-3101 or www.TheMushroomCure.com