Opening its 2011 season and its 80th birthday year, Westport Country Playhouse will stage comic master Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy," directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, April 26 through May 14. The wickedly funny comedy looks at the days and nights of the young and single.
After a disastrous first date, Bruce and Prudence seek solace in therapy---despite both their therapists being stark raving mad. And that's only the beginning of their problems. In Durang's topsy-turvy world, life is a potent cocktail of sexual mix-ups, relationship neuroses, and a serious lack of impulse control. The play contains adult content and language.
"'Beyond Therapy' is not only fiercely funny but also sweet and goofy, in the manner of screwball film comedies from the '30s," said Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. "However, there is nothing old-fashioned about it. Durang's off-kilter characters and wise comic writing are as surprising and contemporary as theater can be."
"I think Christopher Durang's plays are among the truly enduring works of American stage comedy," said David Kennedy, who will direct. "And like all the greats, though his efforts owe a debt to his influences, they are entirely, uniquely his own. That's what's so remarkable, particularly about 'Beyond Therapy.' While in its way it's a sweet romantic comedy, it's infused with a smart, high-octane sense of absurdism that is pure Durang, the thing that he does better than anybody. This is a comedy of great feeling and energy, an actor or a director's dream."
The cast includes Trent Dawson (Broadway's "The Herbal Bed") as Stuart; Nick Gehlfuss (TV's "Army Wives" and "The Good Wife") as Andrew; Jeremy Peter Johnson (Westport Country Playhouse's "She Loves Me") as Bruce; Nicole Lowrance (Westport Country Playhouse's "David Copperfield," Broadway's "Dividing the Estate") as Prudence; Kathleen McNenny (Westport Country Playhouse's "The Good German, Broadway's "Coram Boy," "The Constant Wife") as Charlotte; and Stephen Wallem (Thor on Showtime's "Nurse Jackie") as Bob.
Playwright Christopher Durang has had plays on and off-Broadway including "A History of the American Film" (Tony Award nomination), "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You" (Obie Award), "Beyond Therapy," "Baby with the Bathwater," "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" (Obie Award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award), "Laughing Wild," "Betty's Summer Vacation" (Obie Award), "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge," "Miss Witherspoon" (2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and "Adrift in Macao" (book/lyrics Durang, music by Peter Melnick). His latest play "Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love" premiered at The Public Theater in 2009. In recent years, Durang won the Harvard Arts Medal, the Sidney Kingsley Playwriting Award and was the 2008 honoree at the William Inge Festival. Durang has acted in movies ("Butcher's Wife," "Housesitter," "Mr. North," "The Secret of My Success") and in his own plays. With Marsha Norman, he's been co-chair of the Playwriting Program at Juilliard School since 1994. He's a member of the Dramatists Guild Council. www.christopherdurang.com