It’s a topic that will resonate with many in their late twenties and thirties – if you haven’t found ‘the one’, should you settle for imperfection to join the pack heading towards marriage, mortgage and baby?
It’s these themes that director Johann Walraven really wanted to explore in Christopher Durang’s farcical play Beyond Therapy. Set in the early 1980s, well before Tinder and eHarmony, Bruce (played by David Hooley) places an ad in the personals section of the newspaper at the insistence of his therapist.
He meets Prudence (Rebecca Scott), an impressionable woman in her thirties who is sleeping with her own therapist. She answers the ad in the hope she can meet someone to settle down with.
What ensues is a spirited, absurdist play that follows their tumultuous relationship. Although they don’t hit it off immediately, their fondness for each other grows and they wonder whether this is as good as it gets.
We are also taken into their respective therapy sessions: Bruce’s therapist is wacky Dr Charlotte Wallace who is portrayed wonderfully by Nadia Townsend. She is baffled by the simplest of words (such as the difference between porpoise and patient) and uses a snoopy toy to bark encouragingly to her patients.
Prudence’s therapist is Dr Stuart Framingham (Andrew Johnston), who has a habit of seducing his patients yet seems to have as much understanding of the female mind and body as a rock.
Rounding out the ensemble is the waiter (Tel Benjamin) and Bruce’s male lover Bob (Jasper Whincop). With his over-the-top snooty glances and jealous mutterings, Whincop absolutely steals the show.
The farcical nature of the script contrasts with the homely looking set (designed by Martin Kinnane). A long bench doubles as a therapist desk and a restaurant table as well as a smattering of chairs and a couch. However at times, the actors seemed held back by the furniture – it didn’t really sit right as a restaurant or an office and seemed to stand in the way of the dialogue between the characters.
Beyond Therapy is reasonably entertaining however you get the impression it could be much funnier and even more absurd. The themes may give food for thought however unfortunately the execution might leave you feeling frustratingly unsatisfied.