Review: "Before The Drugs Kick In" May Alter Your Perception
Before The Drugs Kick In
Written and directed by Mike Lemme
Presented by Mike Lemme at UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place, Manhattan, NYC
December 8-22, 2023
|Maria DeCotis. Photo by Arin Sang-urai.
The hour-long play takes the form of a stand-up set by a woman named Lynn T. Walsh (Maria DeCotis). The stage on which she performs is bare except for a single chair, and, clad in head-to-toe black, with a cigarette perched behind her ear, she cuts a rather archetypal figure as a stand-up comic. It takes almost no time, however, for Walsh to throw the play's first curveball, a clear signal that what is to come will in fact be far from typical. As with our discussion of the 2022 production of Lemme's Bathroom of a Bar on Bleecker, it seems best to let the audience discover the specific revelations nested within Before The Drugs Kick In for themselves–including who the spectators are to Walsh herself. Suffice it to say that Walsh is using stand-up to process the experience and ongoing ramifications of a pivotal moment in her life that she calls a mistake, and that her particular use of the artform includes some unexpected layers. The stand-up form also allows Walsh to make some trenchant contrasts between her treatment–by both professionals and family–as a woman who had a mental health crisis and, say, a successful middle-aged male comedian who publicly dated an underage woman. Significant to the play's explorations is not only the aftermath of the crisis but also the causes, particularly suburban solitude and enervation (in her case, in the 1990s, when for many, she observes, maternity leave still meant leaving one's job). Walsh points out, for example–quite accurately, in our experience–that something like taking a walk around the neighborhood tends to be looked at askance in the suburbs, where the accepted path is from house to car and vice versa and the typical points of interaction with the neighbors are within the bounds of one's own driveway or from behind the glass of a picture window.
|Maria DeCotis and Mike Lemme. Photo by Arin Sang-urai.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards