A Bitter Pill Review - A Melancholy Tale, Yet Easy to Swallow

On January 5th at this venerable site for community relations a full and appreciative house witnessed the world premiere of a polemical play from GAYLE DAMIANO WAXENBERG, " A BITTER PILL". It was smartly directed by the Artistic Director of THE TELLING COMPANY which produced this event, DANIEL NEIDEN. The ensemble which enacted this harrowing story of the Gold family facing the horrors of misdiagnosis among the young taking place between 1997 and 2011 was a compelling portrait conveyed in a near MARAT/SADE fashion of storytelling and shed considerable light on the scandalous connection between the psychiatric community, often with the best of intentions, and the unmitigated greed of Big Pharm, whose prominence in the headlines is not about to go away.

We follow the exemplar patient, Adam, convincingly played with considerable detail from the ages of 8 to 21 by ALEXANDER NIFONG, and his mother Ava, equally convincing with palpable pain and splashes of humor from NICOLE O'BRIEN as they traverse the hazardous journey of the first misconstruing of Adam's ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)at his youngest in the play, and the series of compounded errors and mental health advisers counterbalancing one wrong drug after another for the 14 years covered in the story.The rest of the alert and exacting ensemble featuring ALESANDRA NAHODIL, STEVEN J. CAMBRIA, BRANDON DUNCAN, WHITNEY BIANCUR, LEO GIANNOPOULOS, and MARISSA CRISAFULLI provide supporting characters from family of sympathetic sister and bewildered father, to the health professionals and the personifications of the very drugs themselves that worked their misused wonders on the hapless Adam.

When this reviewer first searched the internet the term of ADHD, immediately there popped up a series of solicitations for prescriptions. Nothing could be more telling than what THE TELLING COMPANY is endeavoring to inform with this play. Indeed, Ms. Waxenberg's story is transparently a personal one for her and her family and what would seem to be an epidemic in her community during the years covered and still very much prevalent. It matters not that their story took place in and around the Hudson Valley. This pharmacological conspiracy is rampant all over our nation and has pervaded our culture over the last few decades. It is clearly stated in the program notes by the author that...."no other country has lobbyists influencing politicians for profit rather than caring for their citizens. Even our doctors, on whom we depend, are often kept in the dark, misled by fabricated research."

It is also quite Telling that a most ringing endorsement, besides that of this reviewer for 'A BITTER PILL", comes from a most prominent personality normally associated with humor, but equally so with a profound dedication for the health and welfare of our young: "It is my hope that his wonderful play can help educate, so that one day all children have an equal chance for a healthy, happy life." .....JERRY LEWIS

"A BITTER PILL" shall be featured twice more in the Venus/Adonis Festival taking place at New York's HUDSON GUILD THEATRE , 441 West 26TH St. on Saturday Jan. 9th @ 8:30 P.M. and Sunday @ 1:00 P.M. for more information on The Telling Company

New York City- Hudson Guild Theatre- Venus Adonis Festival Jan 5th- 10th,2016 

The Telling Company (TTC) is a not-for-profit organization committed to artistically “telling” real-life stories, that illuminate personal challenges and inspire social change. 

Photos: Russ Rowland

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