Varieties of Religious Experience
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
February 21, 2013
Publicity image for Varieties of Religious Experience
Adam Strauss is on a quest for enlightenment. Aptly borrowing his title from the book by William James about the often psychedelic nature of religious visions, he takes the audience on a journey through some pragmatic liberation of the mind.
In this true story, we hear of Adam's desire, following a spate of recent scientific studies about hallucinogens, to self-medicate with mushrooms and cacti. It is an effort to treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is described in great detail. With OCD, the process of buying an MP3 player for example takes days of research. Adam ends up buying both of the top two competing products and stays home for another three days to test the audio quality. This kind of detailed, compassionate storytelling shows why people might want to control their brains and their lives.
Adam falls for a tourist visiting the city, and although she is not perfect (so says his OCD) she introduces him to the world of legal psychedelic cacti. The story gets even more interesting from there, starting with the surprisingly intensive process of extracting psychotropic substances from a cactus.
The story is told calmly and with much warmth, and feels like a personal victory and celebration of life. Adam has taken this show to Edinburgh and I'm glad he is briging it to New York and beyond.