BEYOND THERAPYby Christopher Durang
Director – Jim Covault
Set Design – Jim Covault
Costume Design – Michael Robinson/Dallas Costume Shoppe
Lighting Design – Michael O’Brien
Props and Set Décor – Lynn Lovett
Production Stage Manager – Peggy Kruger-O’Brien
Bruce – Mark Shum
Prudence – Dana Schultes
Dr. Stuart Framingham – Jakie Cabe
Mrs. Charlotte Wallace – Amber Devlin
Bob – Tyler Martin
Andrew – Mitchell Stephens
Reviewed Performance: 8/23/2014
Reviewed by Zach Powell, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Mark Shum plays Bruce, an emotional man seeking a way to fill the void within his life through therapy and dating. Throughout the play, Bruce is subject to many crying spells, pulling out his handy handkerchief to wipe away tears. Shum does fake cry well; his face contorts with the emotion but sobbing noises coming from behind the tissue are thoroughly unconvincing. Shum does an effective job communicating his character’s neurotic behavior, demonstrating his character’s sensitivity and manic tendencies; his movements and facial expressions show an edginess that demonstrates Bruce’s penchant for overreacting and overstatement, always appearing wound up.
Prudence, played by Dana Schultes, has become increasingly aware of her ending biological clock and the fact that she can’t seem to find a decent man. Due to such tensions, Schultes conveys an urgent desperation, communicating how her character quickly filters through a variety of men as she searches for the perfect guy to marry. As Schultes speaks, her voice carries a measure of strain, suggesting that Prudence is approaching the edge of sanity while on her life’s journey.
Jakie Cabe plays the cowboy psychiatrist, Dr. Stuart Framingham, a man obsessed with expressing his masculinity and superiority to other members of the male sex. Cabe carries the swagger of a confident desperado, strutting with authority and drunken confidence. Cabe teeters on the edge of overdoing the cowboy, but stays on the side of portraying a fun character.
As Mrs. Charlotte Wallace, Amber Devlin develops an eccentric and bombastic character, filled with the excitement of life, change, and the joy of helping other people. Devlin delivers a character often absent-minded and preoccupied with finding the appropriate word for her everyday conversations. With each step and word, Devlin shows a jubilant nature, carrying a permanent smile and positive attitude.
Tyler Martin steals the show as Bob, Bruce’s roommate. Martin is absolutely hilarious, taking the role of scorned lover to comedic extremes. Bob’s flair for dramatic expression of sorrow keeps the audience in stitches, whether it’s through his desperate calls to his overbearing mother or his catty behavior towards Prudence as he struggles to keep Bruce within his clutches.
Andrew, played by Mitchell Stephens, has few lines spoken and brief appearances on stage, making it is difficult to critique his performance. Stephens performs well as the waiter in the restaurant, appearing attentive to the other characters’ needs at dinner.
Michael Robinson’s costume design draws heavily from 80s era yuppie culture, emphasizing billowy pants and rolled up sleeves. Each costume exhibited bold, vibrant colors, showing the strong, vivid personalities of each character.
Jim Covault’s set design lent itself to smooth transitions from scene to scene, thanks to the use of a sliding wall arrangement. Covault’s design centers on a rather nondescript couch that drifts from spot to spot on the stage, becoming the centerpiece of the characters’ lives. The bright red walls keep the energy of the scenes lively and vibrant.
Michael O’Brien’s lighting design is simplistic, never really creating any dramatic scenes or emphasis on the performance, but serves its purpose for lighting the scenes and actors.
The play Beyond Therapy often comes up short on the comedic aspect of its writing. Many of the references and allusions made throughout are dated, leaving younger audience members to wonder what exactly the joke is. With that said, older audience members appeared to appreciate the humor and enjoyed themselves. Overall the acting in this play is good but Beyond Therapy is a lackluster play that left me wondering why this play was ever considered a comedy.
821 W. Vickery Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76104
Runs through September 28th
Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday-Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 3:00 pm
Thursday and Sunday tickets are $28.00, and Friday-Saturday tickets are $32.00.
As the theatre’s main site is under maintenance at present, please visit http://www.facebook.com/StageWest for information or call their box office at 817-784-9378.