"Energy without grace," is how actor/comic Mark Lundholm describes his years as a speed, cocaine, and alcohol abuser and criminal, but Addicted, an auto-biographical, one-man show, manages to bestow the stage with both energy and grace in spades. In this ultimate 12-Step confessional, the fact that Lundholm, who wrote and performed the piece, started out as a homeless drug addict and ended-up a stand-up comic and motivational speaker doesn’t hurt. A tightly scripted, well-directed one-act, Addicted takes the recovery program’s standard feature, the public telling of the addict’s own story, to the level of art.
Lundholm, much more than a comic, takes advantage of his hyperactive nature (he calls himself "Ritalin boy") to keep the story moving, literally. His extra bittersweet tale, which begins with the recollection of holding a gun to a woman’s head, includes a botched suicide attempt and the abandonment of a wife and infant daughter. It ends with the admission that the subject matter the audience has just been subjected to "really isn’t funny"—needs all the levity it can get, but Lundholm is able to produce it. Darkness with humor creates a kind of release for both performer and audience, just as the starving soul at the heart of the piece calls out for empathy without saying a word.
Directed by veteran actor/director/producer Bob Balaban, the piece uses sound, lighting and blocking to effectively break-up the relentless nature of Lundholm’s "bad is better" life-saga. And the script, honed after being presented in seven cities before San Francisco, including a long-run off-Broadway, is full of self-deprecating one-liners that keep the laughs coming throughout the 90-minute show.
"Life is like panhandling, it’s all about change," he says. Lundholm’s raucous rite of passage contains all the elements to create an effective one-man show, but the piece ultimately works because, at its core, it is everyone’s story, about being faulty and trying to make sense of life. Lundholm’s version is just better, because it’s "badder."