Mildly Troubled

Written by Mark Peikert on . Posted in NY Press Exclusive, Theater.


The flimsy and painless Psycho Therapy is little more than a paycheck for its actors, but the results aren’t disastrous. Nothing about Frank Strausser’s new comedy is available for pointing and laughing; the story of conflicted Lily, who finds herself in couples therapy with her current boyfriend Philip and her ex-boyfriend Dorian, is light on laughter but long on appealing actors investing more in their roles than the script requires.

Angelica Page and Jeffrey Carlson in 's Psycho Therapy's

The implausibilities mount early and often here, from Dorian’s abrupt appearance in place of Philip at Lily’s first session with Nancy (who, as a therapist, is dealing with issues of her own) to Strausser’s sudden reluctance to follow the thread of farce that was woven into the script from its beginning. The mistaken identities are quickly cleared up, even as the three doors of Michael V. Moore’s sleekly multi-purpose set keep slamming, and that’s a major mistake; Strausser fills the void with some half-hearted stabs at psycho babble that explain nothing about these wealthy, bored people.

“A Park Avenue cat,” is how Dorian and Philips describe Lily, and as played by Angelica Page, she’s certainly a lithe creature, with a Marilyn Monroe wobble and a socialite’s sheltering sunglasses. As Dorian and Philip, Jeffrey Carlson and Laurence Lau contribute smarmy sex and stolid confusion, respectively, while Jan Leslie Harding does what she can with a shrink who is battling a fondness for chocolate. But it’s a symptom of the entire production (which lost its director during rehearsals and delayed its opening by a week) that when Page begins to cry, our immediate thought isn’t of empathy or even of sympathy. It’s of the sheer technique that Page is carelessly wasting on such trite material.

Psycho Therapy
Through Feb. 25, Cherry Lane, 38 Commerce St. (at Barrow St.), www.cherrylanetheatre.org; $66.

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