Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Beyond Therapy"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark

"Beyond Therapy"

by Christopher Durang

Directed by Sean David Bennett
Scenic Design by Deb Gregg
Lighting Design by Alan Fairbrother
Costume Design by Phyllis Kinson
Production Stage Manager Mary Moffett

Bruce.........................................Rick Park
Prudence...................................Lis Adams
Dr. Stuart Framingham......Stephen Epstein
Mrs. Charlotte Wallace.........Lynn Moulton
Bob......................................Michael Ricca
Andrew..............................Charles Strauss

The wackiest people in Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy" are the therapists --- aside from the playwright himself, that is. Durang keeps pushing the envelope of plausibility here, making one therapist a predatory sexist, another so absorbed in "the moment" it's minutes into the hour before she realizes she thinks he's a completely different patient. He has his protagonists meet (twice) at a restaurant where you can only get a waiter's attention with a gun. The two patients try to maintain a sense of logical decorum in the midst of a Marx Brothers farce, and instead of opting for order Director Sean David Bennett has let the cast take the chaos to extremes. It's a better, funnier play in his hands.

The sanest of these people --- let's ignore the fact that she's falling in love with a bi-sexual (Rick Park) who wants a home and children and his lover living in the garage --- is Lis Adams' Prudence. True, she's still seeing a psychiatrist who seduced her (Stephen Epstein) and uses psychological blackmail whenever she brings up his premature ejaculations, but sanity is at best relative here. Her reactions to everyone, including an emotional explosion built up to throughout the play, are most understandable. Hers is the level of reality from which everyone diverges.

Rick Park's Bruce is getting in touch with his impulses by bursting briefly into tears periodically, and putting personal ads into the paper to find an understanding wife. His real problem may be the let-it-all-hang-out enthusiasms of his own therapist, played exuberantly over the top by Lynn Moulton. That and the understandably defensive petulance of Bob (Michael Ricca), who has lived with him for a year and has no intention of handing him on to any woman.

Durang's story-line is so convoluted it's amazing how he manages to bring everyone together at that oddly customer-indifferent restaurant for an at least relatively satisfying tie-up of everyone's loose ends. The pace gives no one time to think as Durang, Bennett and the cast detonate one explosive innovation after another. I have seen two good productions of this peculiar modern farce. This one is simply better, and apparently the Leland Center space at the BCA is too small for the audience it attracts. Call for a session, and say I gave the referral.


"Beyond Therapy" (till 11 March)
Leland Center, Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide