It’s hard to believe that, not too long ago, in days pre-dating OkCupid, eHarmony, and other smart phone apps, that our means of meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right were limited to a newspaper clipping and blind optimism. Those days were the eighties, the era in which Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy is set. Currently, the Actor’s Company Theatre (TACT) is diving head first into the crazy pool with this send-up of psychiatric madness.
Bruce (Mark Alhadeff) and Prudence (Liv Rooth) are two bags of nerves who meet at “The Restaurant”, a dining spot in which couples maintain so much privacy that they are completely ignored by the wait staff. Shortly into the date, Bruce takes every wrong turn imaginable by crying (to show his sensitive side), and admitting to a relationship with his lover, Bob (Jeffrey C. Hawkins).
Bruce and Prudence plead for guidance from their psychiatrists; both are who are irreverent and completely insane. Bruce attempts to find meaning in life’s madness with Charlotte (Cynthia Darlow), a spacy crackpot who can’t remember simple words, details about her clients, or where she placed important files. Furthermore, she converses with a stuffed snoopy dog and uses it to speak in a doggie voice with Bruce. Darlow is outstanding and her comic timing is impeccable.
Prudence attempts to gain insight with Stuart (Karl Kenzler), but that is a sure fail. Stuart and Prudence were once romantically intertwined and Stuart can’t seem to cut the string. In his twisted mind, the best way to win back his lost love is to force himself on her and belittle her. It makes no sense that anyone tolerates this nonsense. Come to think of it, there is very little here that makes sense in the entire play. But that is the point. Rather than offering a seminar on the meaning of life, Durang suggests that it is all a collision of confusion and chaos, all of which is completely funny.
Under the direction of Scott Alan Evans, TACT once again manages to score a breezy and winning production. It is a complete diversion from the group’s mounting of last fall’s serious and somber Natural Affection, but it is equally as well crafted and entertaining.
Beyond Therapy is now playing off-Broadway through April 19th on Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd St. between 9th and 10th avenues. For tickets, call (212) 239-6200, visit www.telecharge.com, or go the box office.