by: Sandi Durell
To look at Steven Strafford (who appeared in Spamalot, original Vegas cast), a rather pleasant looking guy, you wouldn’t think this gay young man had been so totally addicted to crystal meth to the degree that he describes in this one-man performance. As for sex, well, that’s another kind of addiction, and promiscuous and crazed he was to perform sexual favors for, and with, whomever dangled his drug of choice and paid his rent and other expenses. The fact is that this is a sad, sad tale about a young guy who wanted to be in theatre, was scared, lacked responsibility and was consumed with sex and drugs leading him down a road to self destruction.
His path has finally led him to a life beyond bath houses, meth addiction and lovers who take GHB and beat him, as he currently appears on the stage of The Playroom Theatre (151 West 46 St., 8th fl) where he performs a nightly catharsis, in stories and “Facts of Life” references (that include a loving, caring Mom via video screen) in a unique style of humor and song. Some of the original songs like the title “Methacular!,” “Lose Yourself” and “A Day in the Life of a #2 Wife” are written by Strafford with music supervision and arrangements by John McDaniel along with music by William TN Hall (also providing piano accompaniment) and Wade Elkins. They don’t add, nor subtract from the on-going high energy monologue.
There’s a lot of moving of furniture pieces back and forth (somewhat distracting) in a bleak sparsely furnished apartment (set by David L. Arsenault) during the 90 minutes, as Strafford talks about his college days, phone sex, pop culture, sidebars that have sidebars, drug dealers that become lovers, watching porn, the all-too abusive relationships and the emphasis on how he hated himself but couldn’t stop. Then there are the “audience contestants” for a Game Show “Math, Meth or Myth” that does nothing much to enhance the entire piece other than provide a break and spotlight for a few laughs.
Well, he finally moves in with a guy named Ed who supplies him with lots of meth, who is living with his Ukranian Deacon boyfriend Larry, while Strafford provides the sexual pleasures for Ed . . . and any others who might wander into the apartment.
I found Strafford to be talented, a pretty good singer, actor and storyteller reminding me of Seth Rudetsky in his delivery and style. Unfortunately, I’m not the right audience for this kind of show as I know little to nothing about drugs, addiction, meth or whatever GHB is (had to ask someone). But it was obvious that many of the young people in the audience, who were laughing a lot, related very well. I can only hope Strafford has adhered to the last song “Bringing Down the House of Pain” for good. The piece is directed by Adam Fitzgerald.
Methtacular! Runs thru Sept. 23rd www.kefproductions.com 866-811-4111