SOAP’s adult-mature Manhattan romp
definitely ‘Beyond Therapy’

Andrew Stuckey
Publisher


You know how TV News announcers entice you to watch a horrific bit of video by warning you it’s going to be quite graphic?

Well, the South Okanagan Amateur Players (SOAP) are all but doing the same with their production of Beyond Therapy, opening tonight at the Frank Venables Theatre.

“Warning,” a note on the ticket purchase pages reads, “Beyond Therapy contains mature themes and coarse language including the three most offensive words in the English language. Not suitable for younger age groups.”

The three most offensive words in the English language — how could you not want to see that on a community stage?

The farcical comedy written by Christopher Durang  — who also penned the Tony Award-winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike — and directed by Nathan Linders focuses on Prudence (Jenn MacNeil) and Bruce (Joel Browne), two Manhattanites who are seeking stable romantic relationships with the help of their psychiatrists, each of whom suggests their patient place a personal ad in the newspaper.

We’ve talked about the mature language. Let’s get into the mature themes.

Bruce is a highly emotional bisexual who tends to cry easily, a trait Prudence sees as a weakness. Their first meeting proves to be disastrous and the two report back to their respective therapists — lustful Stuart (Trevor Leigh), who once seduced Prudence, and eccentric Charlotte (Diane Gludovatz), who interacts with her patients with the help of a stuffed Snoopy doll.

Clearly, we quickly understand, the two therapists are more troubled than their patients.

Charlotte suggests a revised ad, which once again attracts Prudence, but this time Prudence and Bruce manage to get past their initial loathing and discover they actually like each other.

Complications ensue when Bruce’s jealous live-in lover Bob (Craig Bjornson) decides to assert himself and do everything possible to maintain his status quo.

To further complicate matters for the star-struck couple, there’s Andrew (Tristan Duursma) a waiter with a dark edge.

The fun only builds from there. But so does the thought-provoking backline.

“We invite you to be brave enough to enjoy this amazing comedy for what it is – not a homophobic story, but a story where some of the characters are homosexual,” writes Mr. Linders. “After all, there is no story without conflict, and until we are in a world where intolerance to the gay community would never happen, you should expect a story which includes gay men to include some of the conflicts they face every day.”

Enough said.

Beyond Therapy plays at the Venables tonight and Saturday, with a matinee Sunday afternoon and two more evening performances Feb. 8 and 9.

Tickets are $23 in advance or $25 day of the show and available online or through the Venables Box Office. Students (with ID) pay $14 in advance or $15 the day of the show.

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