Imagine living a life where the smallest decision often leads to hours of anxious self-doubt and regret. It isn’t that you can’t decide. Rather, it’s that you can’t stop deciding: what is the best shirt to wear, MP3 player to buy or side of the street to walk on. These obsessive thought patterns are so crippling that your Google search history is littered with links to failed cures for your OCD madness.
None of it, not the therapy, the medications, or the meditation, seems to work. Then one night you discover a study indicating that doses of hallucinogenic mushrooms might lead to a breakthrough in your obsessive compulsions. You would probably give it a shot.
It is this quixotic quest for mushrooms, which proves more difficult in New York City than you would expect, that provides the backbone to Adam Strauss’ one-man show. Along the way, Strauss meets a beautiful younger woman who turns him on to cacti which, as it turns out, are chock full of hallucinogens. (One of the few props employed by Strauss is a glass of cactus water that one brave audience member took a sip from.) Eventually, Strauss delves into the world of psychedelic mushrooms, which includes mysterious synthetic offerings from China as well as fungi with colorful names like “Penis Envy.” Always in the background, though, is the haunting specter of OCD.
The beauty and strength of Strauss’ performance is his willingness to allow the audience easy access into his cluttered mind. A comedian by trade, Strauss is funny but, more importantly, vulnerable. This is clearly a story that he feels needs to be told, for himself but also for others. That it ends with a glimmer of hope makes the evening ultimately an uplifting experience. (Noel Schecter)
Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 North Lincoln, (773)404-7336, greenhousetheater.org, $35. Through June 9.