Witty, raw and powerful, Nick Pupo’s Addicted is a story of trust, friendship, forgiveness and brutality. There is nowhere to hide as Pupo vividly recounts the naked truth of his formative years, tainted by lies, drugs and shame.
What is conveyed is not the hopelessness of addiction, but its complexity
Addicted is autobiographical, chronologically detailing the significant moments in Pupo’s life that poetically build into greater climax. The opening reads like more of a scripted stand-up set and recalls childish escapades at school and endearing friendships. What stands out in these first few moments is a motif we see throughout the performance: trust. Viewing the play through this lens allows the audience to uncover further purpose and meaning for themselves, creating a deeper connection between them and the play’s more shocking revelations. In this way, one might argue it loosely resembles the Protasis, Epitasis, and Catastrophe of a Greek tragedy.
As the play progresses, we become more frequently confronted with the reality of substance usage. It is in these uncomfortable, frightening moments where Pupo’s performance is at its strongest. His acting is extremely evocative, making your skin crawl as he details the darkest moments of his heroine addiction. Though the subject matter is inherently uncomfortable, Pupo’s writing is far from gratuitous, but is frank and unashamed. What is conveyed is not the hopelessness of addiction, but its complexity—how time, place, and chance can randomly lead you down rabbit holes that you never wanted to follow. He doesn’t hide from his many mistakes; in fact, he spotlights them. Something that Addicted is perhaps missing is reflection; yes, the show itself chronicles the past, but Pupo could develop the moral tone of the play further. Is there something to learn from his story? We get the sense that there is: the power of forgiveness, the human capacity to change etc. but this aspect could do with being pushed further, as one finds themselves craving more comment from Pupo himself.
Pupo’s performance certainly stands out; you believe every word he says because it is his authentic truth. But it takes more than truth to engage and impress an audience. Playing with subtlety and heightened drama demonstrates his impressive range whilst never straying from authenticity. The power of this forces us to confront our own preconceptions and judgments about ‘junkies’ and substance abuse, making Addicted both a hard-hitting and a heartfelt watch.