(Host) Romantic relationships can be complicated.
And the psychology behind them has been a subject for comedy and tragedy.
On the comedy side, Playwright Christopher Durang wrote Beyond Therapy as a funny, cynical, adult look at love and intimacy.
VPR’s Neal Charnoff went Backstage with the Waterbury Festival Players production of this play.
Beyond Therapy tells the story of two confused singles, Bruce and Prudence. Following the advice of her therapist, Prudence places a personal ad. Her first date with date with Bruce does not go well.
(Prudence) "How am I like a woman?"
(Bruce) "You dress like a woman. You wear eye shadow like a woman."
(Prudence) "You’re like a man. You’re tall. You need to shave. I feel like you could protect me."
(Bruce) "I’m also deeply emotional. I like to cry."
(Prudence) "I wouldn’t like that."
(Bruce) "But I like to cry."
(Prudence) "I don’t think men should cry unless something falls on them."
(Bruce) "That’s a kind of sexisism. Men have been programmed not to show emotion."
(Prudence) "Don’t talk to me about sexisim. You’re the one who started talking about my breasts the minute I sat down. "
(Bruce) "I feel like I want to cry right now."
(Prudence) "Why do you want to cry?"
(Bruce) "I feel you don’t like me enough. I think you’re making eyes at the waiter."
(Prudence) "I haven’t even seen the waiter."
(Bruce starts crying)
(Charnoff) The date ends with the two throwing water in each other’s faces.
Prudence recounts the encounter to her therapist, who appears to be more unbalanced than his patients. It doesn’t help matters that Prudence has had an affair with him.
(Prudence) "I did answer one of those personal ads."
(Therapist) "How did it work out?"
(Prudence) "Very badly. The guy was a jerk. He talked about my breasts. He’s got a male lover. And he wept at the table. It was utterly ridiculous. I should’ve known better."
(Therapist) "Well you can always come back to me, babe. I’ll light your fire for you any time."
(Prudence) "Stuart, I’ve told you can’t talk to me that way if I’m going to stay in therapy with you."
(Therapist) "You’re mighty attractive when you’re angry."
(Charnoff) Eventually Bruce and Prudence meet again, and start to like each other. Maybe.
Beyond Therapy mixes witty dialogue with farce to take comedic aim both at psychiatrists and their lovelorn patients.
Bruce is played by Jason Lorber of Burlington. Lorber says you shouldn’t spend too much time looking for dark themes in the play.
(Lorber) "A lot of times we go to see a play, and we find deeper meanings, and we leave enriched? This isn’t one of those plays. It’s a comedy. It’s a comedy!
(Charnoff) Beyond Therapy is being directed by Tom Carder of Hyde Park. Carder says the play is funny because it’s an accurate reflection of the problems we’ve all encountered in the dating scene.
(Carder) "The thing that I like about Christopher Durang is that he writes very very interesting circumstances kind of like Neil Simon. He is very cynical though. He can create circumstances and say things that if you said those or heard those in real life you would be appalled. But he has a way of turning it in a theatrical way whereby we can actually see things that we recognize and laugh at it."
(Charnoff) Prudence is played by Jana Beagley of Colchester. Beagley says that Beyond Therapy succeeds because the audience can recognize so much about themselves.
(Beagley) "I think its funny because we all have kind of this veneer of being normal, low-maintenance people, and it ain’t true. We’re all of us messed up twisted souls with things to hide and neurosis up the wazoo."
(Charnoff) Director Tom Carder says the message of the play is that to accept those neurosis.
(Carder) "I think the play is really very simple. It’s trying to overcome one’s fear, trying to believe that you’re okay just the way you are. You don’t’ have be someone else, you don’t have to pretend to be someone else, just to allow your true self to evolve with another person and be accepted for that."
(Charnoff) Beyond Therapy runs through August 25th at the Waterbury Festival Theater on Rte. 100 in Waterbury Center.
For VPR Backstage, I’m Neal Charnoff.