A Comedy Of Anxiety
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A Comedy Of Anxiety

Making choices can be immobilizing. If recently you’ve bought a laptop or printer, you may have a sense of how hard it is to make a decision. Do you really need a laptop? Perhaps a tablet might do? Do you stick with an inkjet or re-evaluate a laser? Will a multi-function hold up? Too many choices and variables can be overwhelming.

So shift from a major purchase to smaller, quotidian decisions: Which side of the street do I walk on? Should the shade trump the sun or vice versa? You zig-zag from one side of the street to the other, unable to decide. Imagine being overwhelmed by an acute anxiety every time you have to make a decision. This is the predicament of those who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It impacts every aspect of daily life.

Adam Strauss, an established stand-up comic, who was diagnosed with OCD in his 20s, opens his one-man show trying to decide on an MP3 player — the beauty of an Ipod versus the better sound of an ugly iRiver. Shouldn’t sound be the ultimate test on which a decision rests? From this first dilemma, Adam takes us through his quest for a cure.

As the show opens, Adam has tried everything conventional medicine offers as well as a variety of alternatives. He becomes aware of a new study conducted by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, which indicates that some people have had success with psilocybin, an ingredient in magic mushrooms. His quest for a cure is absorbing, poignant, tender. There are moments of hilarity (he is a comic after all) and flashes of a frightening trip.

“The Mushroom Cure” has evolved over time based on Strauss’s journals. He won the Overall Excellence Award for Solo Performance at the NY Fringe Festival. Directed by Jonathan Libman, the performance is witty, intelligent, well-paced and provocative. Eighty-five minutes with no intermission flew by.

The Mushroom Cure runs at the Cherry Lane Theater, 38 Commerce St, through August 7. All profits from this engagement will be donated to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the non-profit behind the study that inspired Adam’s quest.

Sharon Anstey is a writer and business consultant.

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