‘Beyond Therapy’ cast portrays romantic, pragmatic

Gordon Jones
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The cast of “Beyond Belief” is comprised of (from left) Ani Brinson (Mrs. Charlotte Wallace), Jon Aylward (Bruce), Ryan Pittman (Bob), Julie Farquharson (Prudence), Bobby Hogan (Andrew) and Aaron Hickey (Dr. Stuart). — Submitted photo

Now more than 30 years old, Christopher Durang’s “Beyond Therapy” reflects the manners and mores and idioms of big-city America in the 1980s.

But sexual relationships, here comically spun, have not shifted cataclysmically, so that, despite some datedness of behaviour and language, the play retains its quirky entertainment value.

Meeting in a restaurant for a blind date, contracted through personal ads, brittle young Prudence (Julie Farquharson), who has trouble maintaining relationships, meets a laid-back, self-deprecating Bruce (Jon Aylward), who confides that he is bisexual and has a gay lover. Prudence is a trifle disconcerted, you might say.

After this first date, each consults their respective psychiatrists. Didn’t every self-respecting, American suburbanite in the 1980s have his/her weekly shrink?

Bruce’s is a bohemian female suffering from nominal aphasia, ditzily played by Ani Brinson, who keeps dolls on her office desk and flourishes a Snoopy hand-puppet. Prudence’s male therapist, Stuart (Aaron Hickey), is a sexual opportunist, with whom she had an intimate prior relationship and who continues to importune her. Why not change your psychiatrist, you may ask.

The two daters meet a second time, to be joined by Bruce’s gay, live-in tenant, Bob (flamboyantly rendered by Ryan Pittman), who, together with an unseen mother on the telephone, competes with Prudence for Bruce’s attention.

Finally, a gun-wielding restaurant scene brings together all five principals, together with a previously invisible waiter (Bobby Hogan), who provides symmetrical closure by pairing with Bob, thereby permitting three couples to enter the ark of relationship, two by two by two.

Two of the sets go off to a nightclub, leaving Bruce and Prudence, all passion spent, to provide sotto voce closure of a larger-than-life and somewhat over-talkative story, taking two hours (including 15-minute intermission) to effect the three romantic — or at least pragmatic — pairings towards which the script steers.

Ably directed by Kelly Duke and capably performed by a cast of six stylish young actors, the well-dressed and well-staged Fog Patch production of Christopher Durang’s eccentric and amusing “Beyond Therapy” was warmly received by Thursday’s substantial opening-night audience.

It continues its run at the LSPU Hall until Sunday, starting at 8 p.m., with an additional, pay-what-you-can matinee performance on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

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