Beyond Therapy rises from an early 80s boneyard | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Beyond Therapy rises from an early 80s boneyard 

Eclipse Theatre Company can’t resolve the ancient problems with Christopher Durang’s early comedy.

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Courtesy the artist

Eclipse Theatre Company presents Christopher Durang's badly dated 1981 farce about a mismatched couple's therapy-aided quest for love. When Prudence (Devi Reisenfeld) answers Bruce's (Nick Freed) personals ad, they meet at a nondescript restaurant and have an awkward first date, highlighted by a volley of inappropriate comments back and forth. She storms out hoping never to see him again. But neither she, nor the audience, will be so lucky. Bruce's amnesiac therapist, Charlotte (Lynne Baker), convinces him to place another ad. However, because of her condition, the advice is actually meant for another patient. Prudence's shrink, Stuart (Joe McCauley), doesn't bother counseling her at all, but just wants to get back into her pants. She improbably continues to come to him after their disastrous affair. This is all played for laughs, though it's never clear to what end. Bruce's live-in lover Bob (Siddartha Rajan) is understandably upset about Bruce's new romance. Bob's reaction is the only aspect of Durang's play that rings true. Every other character is a collection of tics rather than an actual human being. From the appropriately hideous early 80s decor to the cringeworthy epithets that rain down throughout, there's a grotesque incongruousness to this play. Perhaps when it debuted, the way it tweaks sexual mores might've seemed daring, but in 2019 it comes off as ugly and unnecessary. The uniformly talented cast does its level best to breathe life into this dinosaur, but some species are better relegated to the boneyard. Rachel Lambert directed.   v

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