Beyond Therapy

Christopher Durang
Theatre 6
Hen and Chickens Theatre

Poster image

English high comedy immigrated to America in the 1930s and reinvented itself in the Hollywood screwball comedies. Today, it survives mainly in the best American sit- coms.

The West End, I think, has seen only one of Christopher Durang’s plays, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, an anti-Roman Catholic diatribe.

Beyond Therapy premiered off-Broadway in 1981 and the cast included Sigourney Weaver. Rewritten, it opened on Broadway in 1982 and the cast included John Lithgow.

Thirty years on, it is still immensely popular in America, particularly with college students and amateurs.

The play, an over-extended one-act comedy, is a series of short, zany revue sketches, conversation pieces, which gradually gather pace and end in farcical shoot-out.

The characters include a bisexual cry-baby divorcé and his jealous male lover; a highly strung magazine editor and a psychotic waiter. There are two criminally inept psychiatrists: one sleeps with his patients; the other has no idea to which patient she is talking and talks through a Snoopy doll.

Durang needs actors who know the New York idiom, the 1970’s period and the comic style if his old-fashioned jokes about blind dates, psychiatry, homosexuality, lesbianism and premature ejaculation are not going to seem laboured.

The script is better than the performances and some of the performances are better than the direction, which is too manic, especially in the unnecessary scene changes. Why not have a permanent set and change the lighting?

Until 19th June

Reviewer: Robert Tanitch

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