Directed by Adam Fitzgerald
Produced by About Face Theatre
in association with Justin Brill
At Theater Wit, Chicago
“Tuesday plus Meth equals Friday” – Strafford
Survival account of three year meth addiction sends the wrong message
Years ago addiction specialists stop using drug survivors to speak to high school and college groups because their audiences got the wrong message. By the fact that the speaker on the podium survived, the thought that they too will survive led to the thought: “So how bad can (you name it: heroin, meth, etc ) since the speaker made, so will I.”
That is the problem I have with Steven Strafford’s solo show, METHTACULAR!. Granted Strafford is a compelling storyteller with with charm and a most empathetic personality. He blends loads of humor with show tunes and shoe biz references with honesty about how and why he went on a three meth bender upon arrival in Chicago from 2000 – 2003. As he tells it, he was a shy gay man trying to enjoy life and have sexual experiences.
“Imagine in one sniff, every physical, sexual, and emotional insecurity you have ever had disappears,” that is what crystal meth did for Steven sending him on a trip down the rabbit hole of addiction. Sex with men became a journey to the bathhouse; abusive men followed and Steven’s showbiz career had to battle his addiction.
For 90 minutes, Strsfford describes, almost proudly, the fun he had with all the sex and inhibitions gone from his life. That tone reeks of self justification despite his honesty. Use of comedy, bland songs, and a game show scene worked to miminalize the horrors of crystal meth. Strafford gives the message that the highs, both sexual and personal, were more than the lows. And that, surly give off the wrong message. I wonder if some shy, introverted young gay guy sees METHTACULAR! and thinks: “Wow, I want to feel great and have lot’s of sex so maybe meth isn’t so bad? Hey, this guy survived.”
Why Steven Strafford doesn’t demonstrate the devastating lows of meth addiction stronger so that the above guy in the audience sees clear how dangerous meth can be is a mystery? Maybe the fact that Strafford is on stage doing a show is proof that meth isn’t so bad? And, I suspect since Strafford is so entertaining and funny, that he can’t help but send the wrong message. Since meth addiction is so prevalent in the gay community, a show that speaks to the joys and inhibitions of crystal meth usage in such a fun way can backfire. I think this show is dangerous since Strafford spends too little time depicting the lows of his addiction. Then maybe that’s material for another show?
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: August 24, 2014
For more info checkout the METHTACULAR! page at theatreinchicago.com
At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call 773-975-8150, tickets $35 – $20 seniors. students, Wednesday thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 4 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through September 28, 2014