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Christopher Durang, “Beyond Therapy”

March, 2024

Christopher Durang is known for works of outrageous and often absurd comedy. His plays deal with issues of child abuse, Roman Catholic dogma, culture and homosexuality. His style is considered an example of black comedy, a type of humor that exaggerates awful things to an extent that it forces  a clear suspension of belief. In this state of mind, it becomes easier to recognize some funny elements in the absurdity. This double-consciousness offers the viewer some emotional safety in regarding subjects that are difficult to think about, such as death, family dysfunction, sado/masochism and much more.

When we read Beyond Therapy in our March play reading meeting, the emotional power of black comedy became very real for all of us. The play focuses on a couple, Bruce and Prudence, who are seeking a stable romantic relationship with the help of their psychiatrists. Unfortunately, Prudence’s psychiatrist has used his position to seduce her. Bruce’s psychiatrist clearly has serious issues herself and refuses to acknowledge either Bruce’s bisexual preference or his long term relationship with Bob, who is gay. There are issues with Bob’s controlling mother, misuse of social dating media, and clearly incompetent advice being shared all around.

All serious issues, right? Yet with the exaggeration of each of these issues and the crazy responses, we all found ourselves laughing constantly at the words and behavior of Durang’s characters. I don’t think we even talked about the serious underlying issues, yet I think we all left with a heightened awareness.

What was especially fun was to experience how each of us got more and more into our characters as we read the play together – even to the point of laughing, crying, yelling and other physical clues in response to our emotional involvement in the moment.

We’re all looking forward to our next play reading in April.

5 thoughts on “Christopher Durang, “Beyond Therapy””

  1. The play was hilarious and it was so much fun reading it together! I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon with you all and look forward to next time. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for this delightful and enriching experience. I was amazed at the level of emotion and closeness to the characters a playreading circle can bring. Looking forward to the next one!

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