Psycho Therapy

by Frank Strausser
Featuring Angelica Page and Jeffrey Carlson
Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street
February 7, 2012 — February 25, 2012
production web site

Reviewed by Martha Wade Steketee
February 4, 2012

(L-R) Jan Leslie Harding, Laurence Lau, Angelica Page, Jeffrey Carlson. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Psycho Therapy is deliciously designed (set by Michael V. Moore, sound by Amy Altodonna and composer Allison Leyton-Brown). The often charming actors are able and willing to flit and stomp and scowl and prance (with no director but a fight director, Rick Sordelet, credited). What fails to dance in any way is the language and the plot in this script intended to be a comedy hinting at a middle-aged child-woman’s resistance to commit, and a middle-aged therapist’s subversion of her own physical desires through chocolate. In the end, the intermission-less romp feels like a slam-my and predictable view into entitled people’s lives.

Nancy (Jane Leslie Harding) prepares for a new patient by making some last-minute phone calls to other patients and trying not to eat the fancy chocolates she has brought to the office to tempt herself. This, unfortunately, is a recurring theme. Lily (Angelica Page) arrives before her partner Philip (Laurence Lau), and Nancy attempts to hold her off. Soon a man Nancy assumes to be Philip marches in, and we all assume he indeed who he says he is for a while despite Lily’s odd reaction to him.  We soon discover that he is Dorian (Jeffrey Carlson), Lily’s boy toy, a trust fund baby with money and no occupation and a passion for Lily. Philip eventually shows up and how everyone finds out about everyone else is the essence (and limit) of the energy of this plot.

At moments one hopes there might be some fun energy fully acknowledging the age difference between Lily and Dorian (as in the Doctor-receptionist middle-aged pair in Cactus Flower lurking around the edges of a May-December romance that eventually fizzles) or some honest revelation for the therapist. These plot points, alas, are not part of this package. We spend time in the confusions and simple situations and challenges of the after effects of the wrong person coming through a door at a particular time and lies concocted to cover that up. And no one evolves. And we wonder what the point has been.

© Martha Wade Steketee (February 8, 2012)

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