The over medication of children and the fact that we have allowed “Big Pharma,” to rule our lives is a subject that needs to be explored. The Telling Company as part of the Venus/Adonis Theater Festival at The Hudson Guild Theatre A Bitter Pill, by Gayle Damiano Waxenberg, does just that.
We hear from a grown up Chloe (Alesandra Nahodil) how her brother was misdiagnosed, lost his personality and how she got lost in the shuffle. Flash back to the Gold family, when Adam (Alexander Nifong), was eight and was acting out. He grew almost over night and was the brunt of childhood bullying by teasing and could not handle his emotions. His mother Ava (Nicole O’Brien) starts to bring him to a series of doctors who being paid off by the pharmaceutical companies start to misdiagnosis and medicate. ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), bipolar disorder, followed by personality disorders. The series of compounded errors and the counterbalancing of one wrong drug after another for the 14 years have devastating effects. As the family breaks down, Chloe is farmed out to Ava’s best friend (Whitney Biancur), who becomes her surrogate mother. Everybody loses except the pharmaceutical companies who racked in the big bucks with just a slap on the hand for experimenting on our children.
This is a very serious subject and one that needs more than what was given here. The playwright and the director Daniel Neiden treat this subject like a bizarre circus, more along the lines of the film Lenny. Maybe if the actors had been more versed in this technique or if you could understand the dialogue as half the words due to the run on of words, this would have worked. The show only really comes alive when Marissa Crisafulli and Brandon Duncan, who play TV reports, give us the facts straight on and allow us to feel their impact. Mr. Nifong starts off week, but wins us over by his performance and in the end and we feel his pain. The cast also includes Steven Cambria and Leo Giannopoulos.
This pharmacological conspiracy is rampant. No other country allows their lobbyists to influence politicians and doctors. Invented diagnoses and the pills that are prescribed like candy have wrecked lives and have consequences to which to punishment does not fit the crimes. More plays, more articles, more films need to tackle this subject until we finally wake up and say “We are mad as hell and we are not going to take it any more.”
A Bitter Pill: The Telling Company as part of the Venus/Adonis Theater Festival, Hudson Guild Theater, 441 West 26th St. Closed.