Good Medicine is billed as an interactive satire. The audience is immediately welcomed into a 19th-century revival tent by the Reverend Beauford T. Jones. He invites them to very actively cast their sins upon him so he may relay those sins down to hell, where they belong, leaving the audience cleansed. But he warns that those sins can, and will, creep back in if folks are not vigilant. Do not fret! Rev. Jones has a solution: For a modest price, he will sell you an elixir that will keep your vibrations pure and your heart free of sin. So begins the grift, but it’s all quite enjoyable with the Reverend smiling from ear to ear and the musicians who travel with him plucking out charming, folksy tunes on their fiddle and banjo.
The audience meets two more charismatic speakers over the next two centuries in the following forty minutes. Dr. Chester C. Braman brings the “magic of science” to an early twentieth-century village. He has rolled into town with his newfangled electrical gadgets to teach folks how to “raise their vibrations” – the key, he says, to good health. Donning some very nifty goggles, Dr. Braman demonstrates several of his inventions, available in the Montgomery Ward catalog. They can be bought for a great deal if you buy them today. (We don’t find out today’s special price because disaster strikes.)
Enter Kurt Candleman, Spiritual Advisor and Master Guru, barefoot, in a white robe and layers of bulky handmade necklaces. Kurt Candleman presents a Zoom seminar and is quite passionate about helping his viewers fix their “physical, emotional and spiritual problems.” But he is never more passionate than when directing viewers to his website, www.kurtcandleman.com, where they can purchase his many wondrous aids for spiritual healing.
Two musicians accompany the traveling huckster to set the tone and provide dramatic music to underscore key moments hilariously. Their instruments and attire change with the time period and esthetic: Banjo, fiddle, and bowler hats for Rev. Jones, straw hats for Dr. Braman, a rain stick and chimes for Kurt Candleman (after seeing this play, you can’t just call him Kurt). The musicians are fully part of the schtick, reacting to Grunn in ways that cue the audience and add to the fun.
Grunn captures the earnest passion of a roadshow magician/scientist/healer. The script uses buzzwords from each time period to pepper the audience with the feeling that this man is letting them in on novel ideas and valuable secrets. His expansive gestures and furrowed brow signal that it’s all because he genuinely cares about their well-being. Good Medicine does expose the dark side of charismatic leaders and the “wellness industry” through the ages, but it’s a very entertaining ride.
Written and Performed by Richard Grunn
October 7, 2022
The 13th United Solo Festival
October 4- November 20, 2022
410 West 42nd (btw 9th and 10th Avenue)
STEPHANIE EAGAN is a professional writer based in NJ. A fan of every type of live performance imaginable, from taiko drumming to political performance art, she travels the tri-state area and beyond in search of music, art, theater, and excellent coffee.