Lightly Deranged, Largely Durang
First of all, knowing that Beyond Therapy is a play written by Christopher Durang is very important in order to prepare yourself for what you’re going to see onstage. Durang is known for outrageous and absurd comedy. The play takes place in New York City in 1982 and tells the story of Bruce and Prudence, a young man and woman, who meet in answer to a dating ad. Remember those? Well, the two meet at a restaurant and the absurdity begins. Bruce is at once smitten by Prudence and immediately professes his love for her. Oh, and by the way Bruce has a male lover, Bob. But he makes it very clear to Prudence that he is not gay. He is bi-sexual. There’s a difference. Everything makes perfect sense to Bruce, why cant anyone else see that?
We also learn that both Bruce and Prudence have their own therapists. His is a new age, hippie, whack-a-doodle. Hers is a macho, tight clothes wearing, egotistical male therapist whom she was once involved with in a relationship. Remember, its Christopher Durang..
Originally produced in 1981, Beyond Therapy is a time capsule into the past. The sexual mores of both heterosexual and homosexual communities in a time before the AIDS crisis is comedic yet frightening.
Set Designer Claire Paul thinks outside of the box. The house sits in a three quarter round with the main playing area in the center. Mini stages flank the opposite corners representing each of the therapists offices. You may fare better sitting on the extreme left or right sections so as to avoid craning your neck or turning fully in your seat to watch the action. It was alright for a little while, but one can get very uncomfortable for a prolonged period of time. Kudos to whoever gathered the music for the preshow and intermission playlist. Subliminally the collected songs from the early 1980s will have you tapping your foot and singing along to the sounds of the B-52s, Hall and Oates, Rick Springfield, and Olivia Newton John, to name a few.
The actors fare well overall. Their naïveté and innocence is an integral part of the characters preposterous outlook on love, sex and relationships. Liz Stone is very fun to watch as Bruce’s dipsy-doodle therapist, Charlotte. She is clearly having fun with this far out character. Also actors to be on the watch for are Noelani Tu’u and Ioasa Tu’u -Bob and Bruce respectively-both possess comedic timing and budding improvisational skills. Nicely rounding out the cast are Claire Paul as Prudence, Bryson Kassel as Stuart and Bryce Takemoto as Andrew.
Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang is directed by Gary E. Morris SM and plays at Chaminade University in the Loo Theatre on November 8, 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30 pm and on Sunday November 12 at 3:00 pm. Call 808-202-6360 or go to www.showtix4u.com for tickets and information