By Marlene S. Gaylinn

Some people feel that psychiatrists choose their specialty because they often have psychological problems themselves.   And ironically, many patients seem to be drawn to particular therapists because these doctors claim they are experts in the same area of difficulty.   In “Beyond Therapy,” playwright Christopher Durang pokes fun at this profession as he questions who is nuttier the psychiatrists or their patients.   The result is absolutely hilarious.

   This season’s opening performance at the Westport Country Playhouse is about insecure people seeking happiness and fulfillment.  “Bruce”  (Jeremy Johnson) places an ad in a dating column with hopes that it might lead to marriage with an understanding woman.  The ad attracts “Prudence” (Nicole Lowrance), who is also hoping for a marriage with “…someone who’ll watch over her.”   They meet at a restaurant carrying their own baggage.  The result is an awkward disaster that sends them running to their individual therapists who are even more cook-coo – assumedly on a higher level.  Prudence’s therapist “Stuart” (Trent Dawson) is a sex therapist who can’t satisfy women.   Bruce’s absent-minded therapist “Charlotte”  (Kathleen McNenny) uses a stuffed Snoopy doll as a self-comforting tool while behaving as if she was dropped from another planet.  Adding to the fun is “Bob” (Stephen Wallem), Bruce’s live-in, bi-sexual partner who is an overgrown baby and a waiter called “Andrew” (Nick Gehlfuss), who when threatened, finally shows up with the menu and ties things up at the very end.

   Under the carefully timed direction of David Kennedy, all the actors are great and the fun is continuous.  Special mention should be made of Kathleen McNenny who simply stole the show as the kooky therapist with an endless bag of surprises.  This very silly, one-act comedy is told with such cleverness that you would have to sew your mouth shut to keep from laughing.

Plays until May 14           Tickets:  WWW.WESTPORTPLAYHOUSE.ORG/203:227-4177

This review appears in “On Connecticut Theatre” May/2011


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