SARAH O'TOOLE'S Galway Theatre Workshop brought Christopher Durang’s sprightly comedy Beyond Therapy to the Town Hall Thetre studio last week for a short but laughter-packed run.
Dating from 1981, and first staged off-Broadway, Durang’s play combines mismatched lovers and hare-brained psychiatrists in an early-Woody Allen-style mix of urban angst, fraught romance, awkward situations and hilarious dialogue.
It opens with a volatile first date between fretful singleton Prudence (director Sarah O’Toole, deputising for the ill Roisin Tyrell ) and bisexual Bruce (a fine performance from David O’Sullivan ) who’s emotionally impulsive and prone to burst into tears at any moment.
As if Prudence and Bruce did not have enough problems of their own, they also have to deal with the wayward counselling of their respective shrinks. Prudence is paired with the lecherous, testosterone-fuelled Dr. Stuart (Walter Regan, all bristling moustache and belt buckle ) while Bob is counselled by scatty Dr Charlotte (Anne Ronayne ), always mislaying files and forgetting simple words.
The other key character is Bruce’s live-in boyfriend Bob (wonderfully played by Damien Conway ) who strongly objects to his paramour’s pursuit of Prudence and spends much of the play in a perpetual hissy fit. Completing the cast was Kevin Hyland as a sporadically-seen waiter.
O’Toole shifted the setting from New York to Galway which allowed for a sprinkling of locally-themed gags throughout the play, though its milieu still felt more American than Irish. She choreographed the action with aplomb and the play moved briskly and smoothly from restaurant to psychiatrist’s office to city apartment as each scene unfolded. The set design was spare and simple – a dining table, some chairs, a desk, a sofa- but effective.
The audience clearly enjoyed Durang’s flair for comic situations and repartee and O’Toole and her cast extracted plenty of mileage and laughs from the material. A most enjoyable evening at the theatre.