Review: "Misery is Optional” creates a dialogue for addiction

Trustus Theatre's newest production, Dewey Scott-Wiley and Christine Hellman’s play “Misery is Optional,” looks to impact audiences through its powerful messages about drug addiction. 

Scott-Wiley and Hellman’s work, which premiered the first week of September, chronicles the stories of various drug addicts as they tried to get clean. The work, however, is very unique in structure. Instead of a traditional plot, the play instead pulls all of its dialogue from real interviews that have been conducted with drug addicts. 

Performing these interviews gives a platform for recovering addicts to share their story. And while the interviews can be light-hearted and funny at times, they also hit deep with the problems and hardships of addiction. 

Because the play’s dialogue is so raw and real, it's easy to become invested in the various stories presented. While this is partially because of the phenomenal writing of the play, it is also a credit to the superb acting talent. 

On stage, there were only four actors: Scott-Wiley, Hellman, Arischa Conner and Jason Stokes. Each actor played multiple characters. While difficult to do, the actors played these characters exceptionally well, thus creating a believable environment for the audience to become invested in.

Stokes exemplified as he seamlessly changed personas: whether it be a young gay man struggling with addiction and his sexual orientation or a family man struggling with alcoholism and rehabilitation. 

The multitude of characters also gave the play more depth. Scott-Wiley and Hellman showed audiences that addiction doesn't just affect one group of people. Instead, they exemplify how it impacts different types of people: from the low-income kid struggling at home to a middle-class father who abuses alcohol. 

“Misery is Optional” creates a dialogue for a complex and often misunderstood topic. Its powerful messages about addiction and people’s paths to recovery leaves a lasting impression and can change the way one thinks about addiction.

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