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"Beyond Therapy" Is a Very Funny Farce
Directed by Scott Alan Evans
TACT/The Actors Company
Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre
410 West 42 Street
Opened March 25, 2014
Tues., Wed. & Thurs. at 7:30pm, Fri. at 8pm, Sat. at 2pm & 8pm, and Sun. at 2pm, April 16 matinee at 2pm
Tickets: $21.25 - $59.25 www.telecharge.com or (212) 239-6200
Closes April 19, 2014
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons March 22, 2014
Although Christopher Durang wrote "Beyond Therapy" when he was only 35, he was a noted playwright with successes like "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You" and "A History of the American Film" already under his belt. Durang's reputation would be further cemented with "The Marriage of Bette and Boo," "Baby with the Bathwater" and most recently the Tony award winning "Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike." Nevertheless, "Beyond Therapy" remains one of Durang's most popular plays, and TACT/The Actors Company's recent revival shows why.
Directed by Scott Alan Evans, "Beyond Therapy" features Mark Alhadeff as Bruce, a bisexual man who's decided he wants to try women, and Liv Rooth as Prudence, the somewhat homophobic young lady who answers his ad. Bruce is being taught how to release his emotions and cry frequently by Charlotte (Cynthia Darlow) his therapist, a manic lady whose enthusiasm is only matched by her incompetence. And Prudence, is in treatment with Stuart (Karl Kenzler), whose idea of therapy is getting on the couch with his female patients. When Bruce's live-in boyfriend, Bob (Jeffrey C. Hawkins) begins complaining, the situation becomes even more complicated.
"Beyond Therapy" is clearly a product of the 80s and many of its references may be unfamiliar to a 21st century audience. In fact, TACT has playfully inserted a quiz into the program in which certain terms need to be matched with their definitions.
Is Plato's Retreat a line of cologne advertised as "The Essence of Man" or a members-only swingers club? Is David Berkowitz the author of "Sexual Politics" or a serial killer known as "Son of Sam?" People who can correctly answer these and similar questions may get a lot more of the humor in "Beyond Therapy," but such knowledge is not absolutely necessary to enjoy the show.
Indeed, as dated as "Beyond Therapy" may be in some ways, at times it seems perfectly current. The scenes in which Bruce and Prudence meet at the restaurant may remind many of the recent Broadway show "First Date." But most important, "Beyond Therapy" is a farce, and farces need only a glimmer of truth to be successful.
Far more important is fine acting and good direction, both of which are quite evident in this production. Darlow is particularly hilarious as the wacky Charlotte, and Hawkins excels as Bruce's boyfriend, a small but very effective role. Although the play moves from the restaurant to the therapists' offices to Bruce's apartment, Evans smoothes these transitions with lively scene changes.
"Beyond Therapy" is more than a blast from the past. It is a breath of fresh air.
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