Tag Archives: Christopher Durang

Beyond Therapy

4 Feb

The title is ambiguous.

Are these crazy characters so far gone they’re beyond therapy?

Or is the play offering a vision of Life that is beyond the need for therapy?

The characters are certainly out there. And they’re absolutely brilliantly performed. From his cast, director Johann Walraven elicits comic performances that are vibrant, energetic, and fully committed to the madness. They’re a joy to watch.

Beyond Therapy

David Hooley and Rebecca Scott as the unlikely lovers are utterly engaging – likeable and deliciously kooky.

Nadia Townsend and Andrew Johnston as the therapists in need of therapy are magnificently ridiculous.

Jasper Whincop (as the jilted gay lover) and Tel Benjamin (as the attractive waiter) take characters that are carefully constructed clichés and play them to the hilt, enthusiastically and gloriously.

Back to that title. Beyond Therapy.

(Here’s a working definition of therapy: therapy is the acknowledgement of our need for support in our attempt to live a life that is both fully conscious and deliberate.)

Does the play present an attitude towards therapy? Is it suggesting therapy is something we should go beyond?

In other words, is the play a satire?

I’m not sure.

Playwright Christopher Durang doesn’t provide a ‘straight man’, someone who might serve as the centre of our responses. All his characters are hilariously over the top. And there’s a deliberately playful meta-theatricality, which reminds us that it’s not ‘Life’ that Durang’s holding a mirror to.

So I’m not sure if it is satire.

But it’s certainly an immensely enjoyable 80 minutes of theatre.

Veronica Kaye

Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang

King Street Theatre til 14 Feb


Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

10 Jun

Firstly, Why Torture is Wrong, and The People who Love Them is  ‘good’ theatre.

Now a digression:

A while back, standing in a crowded foyer, a friend of a friend shocked me by saying “Bad theatre is like being tortured”.

My heart went out to her.

I felt awful. I had thought she was just another complacent, comfortable, middle-class theatre goer.

But no. Perhaps, I thought, she’s a recovering victim of some deranged sociopath. Or, possibly, she’s an escaped dissident from a brutally repressive regime.

Or most likely, like myself, she was just another complacent comfortable middle class theatre goer who enjoyed indulging in absurdly hyperbolic language simply because her life of unparalleled privilege supplied her with everything she needed – except the occasional jolt of excitement to remind her she was alive.

This might be wild speculation, but I suspect sitting through an hour or so of less-than-engaging theatre bears very little resemblance to having electrodes attached to your genitals.

But if you choose to dumbly divide the entirety of existence into the simple categories of the good and the bad, with everything either on one side or the other of that enormous world-dominating watershed, then I guess torture and ‘bad’ theatre might sit on the same side, the very same side as suffering a terminal illness and having dandruff.

Digression over.

Photographs © Bob Seary

Photographs © Bob Seary

Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them is a very funny and fabulously performed satire.

Director Melita Rowston does a fantastic job with Christopher Durang’s script. The performances are joyfully hyperbolic.

Terry Karabelas and Peter Astridge present perfectly pitched in-your-face alpha males.

The female characters are fascinating responses to the male absurdity. Ainslie McGlynn gives us a wonderfully flighty small ‘l’ liberal. Romy Bartz gives us Hildegarde, painfully and hilariously in love with a right wing lunatic. (What’s Sylvia Plath’s line about every woman adoring a fascist?*) And Luella is my comic favourite, played brilliantly by Alice Livingstone. Luella retreats from her domineering husband, and reality in general, through an obsession with theatre. (Yes, lets worry about theatre. There’s nothing else important going on in the world. Like torture.)

And while having terrific fun with these over-the-top characters, the final scene is thought-provoking, and an acknowledgement that satire is not the solution to the great world-dominating watershed between left and right.

It’s a brave move, laying down your greatest weapon, but it’s probably the way forward.

Veronica Kaye

* The line is “Every woman adores a Fascist”.


Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them By Christopher Durang

at New Theatre til 28 June