Spotlight Theatre on Park Avenue in Swarthmore has chosen to chase the winter blahs with a mounting of Christopher Durang’s BEYOND THERAPY. Written in 1980, BEYOND THERAPY is Durang’s send-up of the country’s obsession with analysis in the late ’70s/early ’80s. The protagonists are Prudence, a confused young woman looking for love, and Bruce, a young man who can’t seem to decide if he likes men or women. Each one is taking the advice of their respective therapists—who are loonier than their patients are. Even more complications ensue when Bruce’s jealous live-in lover Bob decides to assert himself in order to keep Bruce fully in their relationship.
One of Durang’s most frequently produced works, THERAPY made its Broadway bow in May of 1982, following a brief run at the Phoenix Theatre in New York City. Wisely, Spotlight chose to keep the play in the 1980s, making it a fun commentary on that time. Director Timothy Oskin keeps the action moving briskly and the multiple locales are presented well on Spotlight’s modest stage. Oskin has calibrated the laughs well.
Emily Aaron Fishman does a great job conveying Prudence’s insecurities, instantly winning the audience over. Jeffery Barg has a harder job as Bruce. Initially the character is somewhat off-putting, but Barg manages to imbue his portrayal with a certain charm, which eventually gets the viewer on his side.
The two therapists are beautifully played by Jim Ludovici and Dani Kennedy. Ludovici seems to be having a grand old time as Stuart (Prudence’s doctor), who is sleeze personified. Not only is he not really helping Prudence, but also he slept with her after their second session! And continues to try and get back in bed. Kennedy brings a certain “Mellissa McCarthy-esque” quality to her work as Dr. Charlotte Wallace, a woman whose questionable therapy methods are matched only by her inability to come up with the correct word when needed.
Adam Corbett is terrific fun to watch as Bob, the jilted lover. He goes “over-the-top,” but manages to keep it real—not an easy trick. John-Taylor makes the most of the small role of a waiter in the climactic scene.
Oskin handled the set design, as well as the directing, and has created a serviceable world for the action to unfold on. He is supported by a clever soundscape created by Andrew Montemayor—who also created the lighting. And some great 80s fashion was provided by Oskin and Fishman.
The opening night crowd was thoroughly enjoying themselves, so make an appointment to see this fun production of BEYOND THERAPY while the doctors are still in.
by Christopher Durang
Directed by Timothy Oskin
January 23—31, 2015
MN Spotlight Theatre
@ Swarthmore United Methodist Church
129 Park Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081