presented by the Milford Area Players
directed by Vick Bennison
Reviewed by guest blogger
BEYOND THERAPY, a comedy by Christopher Durang, is now in production courtesy of the Milford Area Players (MAP).
The play premiered off-Broadway at the Phoenix Theatre in New York on January 1, 1981, starring Stephen Collins and Sigourney Weaver in the lead roles. MAP’s production opened this past Friday, March 21st, 2014, featuring Kevin Linkroum (Bruce) and Sara Fagan (Prudence).
BT is a period piece; the leads meet one other through personal ads, published in the local newspaper- technology has pushed us to the internet for such things today. As our characters explain more than once: "it’s so difficult to meet people." In those days, ads in the paper is what those desperate for love and companionship did to meet.
But their meeting does not go well. As Prudence exclaims to her therapist, Bruce “mentioned my breasts!” and “his male lover!” The comedy for the most part still works in 2014, though the many period pop culture references (Three’s Company, Gary Gilmore, etc.) may sail over the heads of those under a certain age.
Despite its dated premise, MAP's version of BT is a keenly executed production. The set is deftly constructed on a turn-table; this gizmo would turn a little bit to reveal the next set, and just when you thought it was out of tricks, another new set popped out. Very clever, if a bit slow. A little music would have been nice to fill the time. Lighting was good, although cues designed to begin a scene were late at times.
Kevin Linkroum’s bare-chested character embodies what used to be the stereotype for a gay man named “Bruce.” Kevin pulls this off rather well, as does Sara Fagan as Prudence. Neatly costumed, Prudence is delightfully feminine and strong against Bruce’s confused sexuality.
Therapists Gary Trahan and Amy Agostino don’t appear until later in the play, but they arrive with a bang. These absurd characters steal the show, especially Amy’s scene with Bruce’s boyfriend Bob, portrayed by Tim Lord. Amy’s over-the-top portrayal of Charlotte is spot on for laughs and steals the show. The late arrival of the waiter (Mitch Fortier), reveals more than bare chests. When he whispers “I get off in five minutes,” he’s not bragging about being quick.
Opening night tempo lagged and there were issues with volume, but director feedback should fix that by the time you get the chance to see this. I hope you will.
BEYOND THERAPY runs through March 30, 2014. See the MAP website for details.
Lowell Williams is an acclaimed playwright and a prominent member of the NH theatre community. A graduate of the MFA program at Goddard College, his plays SIX NIGHTS IN THE BLACK BELT, THE WARMTH OF THE COLD, and others have been widely produced throughout the region and the US. .