Written by Scotty Keister
It’s Christopher Durang season in OC, and that just makes me happy. After a hilarious run of his most recent work, “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike” recently at Stages Theater in Fullerton, February finds “Beyond Therapy,” at the Modjeska Playhouse in Lake Forest. Though not probing as deeply into human fallibility, “Beyond Therapy” shares the same Durang penchant for silliness and terrifically funny wordplay.
The play is an exploration of the varying levels of insanity that invariably pervade romantic entanglements. Prudence and Bruce meet at a restaurant when she answers Bruce’s personal ad in a local paper. As astonishing as this is to believe in these times, yes, people did once blindly set out to meet other humans they knew nothing about, other than a few vague lines in a classified ad. In this case, Prudence, a suspicious and cynical sort, soon realizes Bruce is from the wackier side of the moon. He has a gay lover (Bob) he lives with, yet has an irrational need to marry a woman and have children. He also cries at the drop of a hat.
We soon learn that both these lost souls are being haplessly encouraged by their even less stable therapists, Stuart and Charlotte. Stuart is a sample of macho masculinity gone wrong – he wears a belt buckle the size of a Big Mac; and Charlotte is as daffy as the day is long – she continually confuses the words patient with porpoise and secretary with dirigible.
Of course, eventually they are all destined to meet and hilarity ensues. There are many glasses of water thrown. Durang’s dialog is snappy and witty, a modern-day Oscar Wilde on steroids, yet without an able cast it would all fall flat. In this fortunate instance, director Wade Williamson has assembled some seasoned talent. First and foremost is Destiny Dawn Osmialowski as Prudence. She has the classic movie star looks and physical comedy styles of a Myrna Loy or Claudette Colbert, even in the way she cocks her arms or flips her hands. She hits all the right comic notes and she owns the show from open to close. Michael K. Holle plays Bruce as a timid and sincere soul whose innate charm makes you forget how nuts he is. Amy Lauren Gettys and Michael J. Keeney both contribute very funny performances as the two therapists. Gettys’ wackiness is a riot, and Keeney’s brand of slapstick physicality is in fine form here.
The play goes into quiet lapses from time to time, but never for long before the laughs rev up again. Though you know all these people are probably better off locked up somewhere, you still root for them to find some level of happiness, even though it is wholly obvious they should not be together for another minute. But there you go – such is the insanity of relationships as Durang sees them.
“Beyond Therapy” runs for one more weekend, Thursday thru Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 5 pm.