Newspapers and television are filled with stories of drug overdoses, excessive prescriptions for opioids, and dependency on drugs due to PTSD, pain and depression. Obituaries note an increasing number of young people dying because of overdosing. Hands are wrung, mea culpas chanted, and social service centers pontificate, but the siege continues.
Playwright Greg Vovos has been collecting tales about heroin addiction for a number of years. One story stood out from the narratives he heard. This account, the experiences of Brian, has been translated into “How To Be A Respectable Junkie,” now being performed in its world premiere at Dobama.
In a one man 90-minute epic, Brian (Christopher M. Bohan), tells the audience his tale. A story of a “normal” kid who gets exposed to the use of drugs through a friend, progresses to being a junkie, who seemingly cannot get a grasp on overcoming his habit, bounces from respectable white collar employee to going through numerous interventions and rehabs and winds up living in his mother’s basement, a helpless and hopeless shell of a man, contemplating suicide.
We know the complete experience because Brian has made a video of his “advice” to others so they, too, can become respectable junkies.
Bohan, who has given outstanding performances on the Dobama stage in “The Flick,” “Peter and the Starcatcher, “ Slowgirl,” and “The Lyons,” outdoes all his past successes with his portrayal of Brian.
Well-guided by director Nathan Motta, Bohan does not just portray Brian, he is Brian. There is not a moment that he lets the audience off the emotional hook. Through the use of humor, pathos, angst and tears, we are under a Bohan-spell.
Vovos’s script is well-conceived. His narration is worded for clarity and realism. There could, however, be some tightening in the script, and a shortening of the conclusion, especially the period of time where the actor changes his costume on stage, which causes a stutter in the action and segments the conclusion from the body of the play.
Capsule judgement: “How to Be A Respectable Junkie” is a special evening of theater. Superb acting, within the confines of a meaningful script, it grabs and holds the audience’s attention. This is absolute must be seen theater for anyone who goes to be informed, to share in a real experience, to see that there may be light at the end of a tunnel, while observing a master class in acting.
“How to Be a Respectable Junkie” runs through July 2, 2017 at Dobama Theatre. Call 216-932-3396 or http://www.dobama.org for tickets.
Next up on the Dobama stage
Jewish Cleveland/Israelarts presents Roy Horovitz, one of Israel’s foremost actors and directors, in his internationally-acclaimed, “My First Sony” and “The Timekeepers,” on July 13-16, 2017.