Beyond Therapy

Theater , Off Broadway
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Photograph: Marielle Solan
Photograph: Marielle Solan
Photograph: Marielle Solan
Photograph: Marielle Solan
Photograph: Marielle Solan
Photograph: Marielle Solan
Photograph: Marielle Solan

Beyond Therapy. Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row (see Off Broadway). By Christopher Durang. Directed by Scott Alan Evans. With Liv Rooth, Mark Alhadeff. Running time: 1hr 50mins. One intermission.

Beyond Therapy: In brief

TACT/The Actors Company Theatre offers the first major revival of Christopher Durang's hilarious 1981 comedy about love, neurosis and psycho psychotherapists. Scott Alan Evans directs.

Beyond Therapy: Theater review by David Cote

Christopher Durang’s 1981 comedy pokes fun at bad dates and even worse shrinks, ratcheting up his patented quirk until a gay man pulls a gun (well, a starter pistol) on his lover—who is branching into heterosexuality—as a flaky doctor looks on in approval. People still go on blind dates and they still see therapists, so theme can’t be the reason why TACT/The Actors Company Theatre’s revival of Beyond Therapy feels so very moldy. The ’80s tunes and mock disco dancing during scene changes are meant to conjure a freewheeling, nostalgic mood, but only summon a cheap '80s vibe, when lampooning Freudians or bisexuality was easier comic game.

This being early Durang, there are still brightly polished satirical barbs and expert jokes, but director Scott Alan Evans can’t whip his cast into enough of a froth. Liv Rooth is pertly charming as Prudence, a young woman with terrible taste in men—and that includes the piggish therapist, Stuart (Karl Kenzler), she's ill-advisedly slept with. A romantic dinner between Prudence and Bruce (Alhadeff) goes disastrously wrong when he compliments her breasts, explains that he has a male lover and breaks down crying. Bruce’s dippy analyst, Charlotte (Cynthia Darlow), is no help; among her several malapropisms, she calls patients “porpoises.”

Such silly material is sketchworthy, but Durang stretches it to two acts, without enough good plot construction or comic invention to sustain the time or keep us involved with his hapless creations. Thus the climactic restaurant scene, while full of good one-liners and potentially hilarious sight gags, merely drags to a cockeyed conclusion, with couples pairing off once the value of psychoanalysis has been savagely and thoroughly debunked. Rooth and Darlow are charming and appealing, rising above the sluggish pace and uneven tone, but director Evans is the one who perhaps should have his head examined.—Theater review by David Cote

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