“All pain is a chance to grow”, says Mark Lundholm, writer and star of the one-man show Addicted. As the title implies, Lundholm is a former alcoholic and drug addict who hit bottom in 1988. While in a halfway house, he began using his journey to recovery as a stand-up routine, and after a trial by fire at San Quentin, he now travels the country telling his story.
Lundholm was a self-described “Ritalin boy”, — a hyperactive child with a temperamental and violent father. He began drinking at a very young age, which led to further addictions to a cornucopia of drugs. The drug usage spiraled out of control, leading to a crime spree, a prolonged bout of homelessness, and a life-changing suicidal moment in a motel. An addict is “energy without grace” as Lundholm describes how he was caught in a downward spiral of fear and anger. He makes no excuses for his past behavior but simply leads us through his road of addiction and recovery. The unique insights he offers along the way apply to all of us since, as he points out, we’re all addicted to something — whether it’s food, sleep, work, sex, or coffee–or performing.
Renowned actor Bob Balaban is a thoughtful and attentive director. He keeps things moving, carefully differentiating between moments and moods, and uses Lundholm’s relentless energy to full advantage. Overall this is a minimalist performance that lets the story speak for itself. The stage is bare, except for a softly backlit and elegiac wall of beer bottles. . Some very creative lighting and sound effects help him recreate the characters in his life–and the voices in his head.
Addicted is both hilarious and self-deprecating. In a former life, Lundholm could have been a salesman par excellence; now, he’s one step away from being a motivational speaker. He’s just that dynamic and charismatic. He doesn’t invite pity or empathy, just a chance to tell his story. And it’s a deeply funny, illuminating story, worthy of Balaban’s direction and an extended Off-Broadway run.